China fully launches self-constructed BeiDou-3 global satellite navigation system

Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a ceremony to mark the launch of the BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System on Friday in Beijing, announcing China’s self-constructed and independently operated global satellite navigation system has been fully completed.

The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, or BDS, is China’s largest space-based system and one of four global navigation networks, alongside the US’ GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Galileo.

Experts say the completion of BeiDou-3 was due to the fact that core technologies cannot be bought or begged from the outside.

The BDS system is a major national technology that was put forward by top decision-makers. It is a complex space system of the largest scale, with the highest level of service performance, and is closely linked to people’s daily lives.

China has spent 26 years achieving this goal, beginning the project in 1994.

“The BDS is the result of efforts by an army of workers mobilized by the Party and the nation, hard work by hundreds of thousands of engineers in all areas, and firm support from the public,” said Yang Changfeng, chief designer of the BDS project.

More than 400 entities and over 300,000 scientists were involved in the project since its inception. Titans in the science and technology field like Chen Fangyun and Sun Jiadong took the lead. 

China’s domestic satellite navigation and location service sector has grown to accommodate about 14,000 companies with over 500,000 workers in five main industry clusters across the country.

On June 23, carrying the last satellite of China’s domestically developed BDS, the Long March-3B launch vehicle blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The satellite was the 55th member of the BeiDou system, and has begun providing navigation, positioning and timing services.

China’s BDS played an important role in providing mapping services for the rapid construction of the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan fang cang temporary hospitals in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province at the beginning of the year when the city was struck by the COVID-19.

BDS terminals were also carried to the top of Mount Qomolangma for the first time in late May, to assist a Chinese surveying team in their quest to measure the height of the world’s tallest mountain.

By the end of 2019 in the Chinese mainland, more than 6.5 million road vehicles, 40,000 postal and express delivery vehicles, 80,000 buses in 36 major cities, 3,200 inland navigation facilities, and 2,900 marine navigation facilities had adopted the BDS, forming the world’s largest dynamic monitoring system for road vehicles. The industry’s market scale is expected to exceed 400 billion yuan by the end of 2020.

In the first quarter of 2020, more than 70 percent of smartphones in China used BeiDou services.


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