China to Send Third Navigation Satellite Into Orbit

Jan 14, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — China plans to launch the third Beidou satellite, as part of the Chinese version of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), into the orbit "in a few days" from the southwestern Xichang Satellite Launch Center, according to a statement from the center Friday.

Both the rocket, a Long March-3III carrier, and the satellite were in sound condition and ready for launch, said the statement, without giving the exact launch date.

China aimed to make Beidou, or Compass, a navigation satellite system that would consist of 35 satellites by 2020, provide global service, Hu Gang, vice-president of Beijing BDStar Navigation Co. Ltd, was quoted by China Daily as saying in July last year.

Beidou is expected to rival the US-developed GPS, the EU’s Galileo positioning system and Russia’s GLONASS, according to media reports.

The home-grown global navigation satellite system will provide regional service around 2011 with a constellation of 12 satellites.

The 12 satellites will be part of the program’s first phase. So far only two Compass satellites have been launched into orbit, one in 2007 and the other in April last year.