China today successfully launched two satellites into space to enlarge its indigenous global navigation network being built to rival US global positioning system.
The 14th and 15th satellites for the Beidou, or Compass, system being built by China were launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest Sichuan province, by a Long March—3B carrier rocket.
“Since it started to provide services on a trial basis on December 27, 2011, the Beidou system has been stable and its services have been increased and improved,” a spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office said.
“The system has been used in transportation, weather forecasting, marine fisheries, forestry, telecommunications, hydrological monitoring and mapping,” state-run Xinhua quoted him as saying.
China started to build up its own satellite navigation system to break its dependence on the US GPS in 2000.
Between October 2000 and May 2003, it had set up a regional satellite navigation system after launching three Beidou geostationary satellites.
“Beidou—1 can not meet growing demand, so China decided to set up a more functional Beidou—2 regional and global navigation system,” Qi Faren, former chief designer for Shenzhou spaceships, said.
From April 2007 to April this year, China launched another 13 orbiters to form its Beidou—2 system, which will eventually consist of 35 satellites.
Three Beidou satellites were sent into space early this year.