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China launches Beidou navigation system

AFP
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Global Positioning System (GPS) units displayed at a shop in Beijing.Photo: AFP
Global Positioning System (GPS) units displayed at a shop in Beijing.Photo: AFP

China has launched commercial and public services across the Asia-Pacific region on its domestic satellite navigation network built to rival the US global positioning system.

The Beidou system started providing services to civilians in the region on Thursday and is expected to provide global coverage by 2020, state media reported.

Ran Chengqi, spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office said the system's performance was "comparable" to GPS, the China Daily said.

"Signals from Beidou can be received in countries such as Australia," he said.

It is the latest accomplishment in space technology for China, which aims to build a space station by the end of the decade and eventually send a manned mission to the moon.

The Beidou system comprises 16 navigation satellites and four experimental satellites, the paper said. Ran added that the system would ultimately provide global navigation, positioning and timing services.

The start of commercial services comes a year after Beidou began a limited positioning service for China and adjacent areas.

China began building the network in 2000 to avoid relying on GPS.AFP


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