A Long March 3III carrier rocket carrying a fourth orbiter of Beidou navigation network blasts off in Xichang, Sichuan province, June 2, 2010. [Chinanews.com]
XICHANG, Sichuan: China successfully launched its fourth orbiter into space at 23:53 Wednesday, as a part of its indigenous satellite navigation and positioning network known as Beidou, or Compass system.
The launch was disclosed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology via a statement posted on its official website Thursday.
The satellite was launched from the Long March 3III carrier rocket.
It will join another three satellites in orbit to form a network that will eventually consist of 35 satellites, said the statement.
According to the plan, the system will provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region around 2012. It will be capable of providing global navigation services by 2020.
China started to build up its own satellite navigation system to break its dependence on the US GPS in 2000, when it sent two orbiters as a double-satellite experimental positioning system, known as the Beidou system.