China GPS system begins service
Updated: 2011-12-27 11:07
BEIJING - China's homegrown Beidou Navigation Satellite System began providing initial positioning, navigation and timing operational services to China and its surrounding areas from Tuesday, a spokesman for the system said.
Six more satellites will be launched in 2012 to further improve the Beidou system and expand its service area to cover most parts of the Asia-Pacific region, spokesman Ran Chengqi, who is also director of the management office of the China Satellite Navigation System, told a press conference.
China began to build the Beidou system in 2000 with a goal of breaking its dependence on the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and creating its own global positioning system by 2020.
So far, China has launched 10 satellites for the Beidou system, with the tenth being lifted into orbit earlier this month.
The Beidou system is compatible and interoperable with the world's other major global navigation satellite systems,including the US GPS system, the EU's Galileo Positioning System and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), according to Ran.
Application of Beidou
"We have been promoting the use of the Beidou navigation system in various economic and social sectors since 2000," Ran said.
The system has been widely used in transportation, marine fisheries, hydrological monitoring, weather forecasting, and disaster mitigation, according to the official Report on the Development of Beidou Navigation Satellite System.
The report states that the system played an important role in the south China sleet-snow disaster in early 2008, rescue efforts following the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The recent examples include the Ministry of Transport developing a terminal to use Beidou navigation in its monitoring of shuttle buses, tourist chartered buses and vehicles for dangerous goods, Ran said.
Also, the southern Guangdong Province has used Beidou to monitor the use of government vehicles to prevent private use.
Ran encourages enterprises at home and abroad to join the research and development of application terminals compatible with Beidou, saying a beta version of the system's Interface Control Document (ICD) could be accessed online starting Tuesday.
Ran said that during field research in Guangdong last week, he found a number of electronic enterprises engaged in the research and development of Beidou terminals.
"I've seen their terminals in trial runs, and all of them performed quite stably."
China's satellite navigation market has swelled from a 4-billion-yuan market (633 million USdollars) in 2003 to 50 billion yuan by May 2011.
Unique edge of Beidou
The United States is currently the dominant provider of navigation services for vehicles in China, with its GPS used in 95 percent of the country's navigation market.
Expected to rival GPS and other major positioning systems, "Beidou is designed with one unique edge, combining navigation and short-message services," said Ran, "enabling end users to interact with each other, and to inform their whereabouts to whomever they choose.
Intensive launch in 2011
Also at Tuesday's press conference, Zhao Xiaojin, head of the aerospace department at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said China's aerospace project has entered a phase that features intensive launches -- completing an average of 20 launch missions annually.
Zhao said this year China has completed 19 missions, including the lift off of three Beidou navigation satellites, the Tiangong-1 space lab module, and the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft. China is ranked number two in the world in terms of frequency of launches.