XICHANG, Sichuan -- China successfully launched an orbiter into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province at 4:20 a.m. Beijing Time Saturday.
It was the seventh orbiter that China has launched for its independent satellite navigation and positioning network, also known as Beidou, or Compass system.
It is the 136th flight for the country's Long March series of rockets.
The new satellite, launched on a Long March-3A carrier rocket, joins six other satellites already in orbit to form a network, which will eventually consist of more than 30 satellites.
China started building its own satellite navigation system to end its dependence upon the US GPS system in 2000, when it sent two orbiters as a double-satellite experimental positioning system.
Beidou, as the system is called, is designed to provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region before 2012 and will be capable of providing global navigation services by 2020.
Long March-3A carrier rocket blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province, Saturday Dec 18, 2010, carrying the seventh orbiter to build building China's own satellite navigation system. [Photo/Xinhua]