China has announced the completion of its homegrown navigation system. President Xi Jinping confirmed the completion of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, nearly three decades since its initiation. The new system will compete against the US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, and the EU’s Galileo. Keep reading to learn more about the BeiDou Navigation System.
China initially launched the BeiDou project back in 1994. In the first phase, otherwise known as BeiDou-1, China launched four Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellite in the space. China initially launched two satellites in 2000. It added two more satellites in the years – 2003 and 2007. Back then, only China could use these services.
The year 2004 marked the start of the second phase of the project. China launched the first satellite of the BeiDou-2 in 2004. The phase was completed in 2012. It broadened the coverage of the system to include the Asia Pacific region. Thus, China decommissioned BeiDou-1 in 2013.
The third phase started in 2009 and it finally concluded in 2020. The system was operational since 2018, two years before its completion. The BeiDou-3 has a total of 30 satellites and has been operational since 2018.
More about BeiDou Navigation System
Not only does BeiDou provide an accurate reading, but it also supports the transmission of messages and images. It can transit up to 1,200 Chinese characters. While the system can operate independently, it is compatible with three other navigation systems, namely GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia), and Galileo (European Union).
The latest BeiDou-3 consists of 30 satellites. Out of the thirty, three are GEO satellites, three are Inclined Geosynchronous Orbie (IGSO) satellites, and twenty-four of them are Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. The latest satellites offer higher bandwidth for better communication and more accurate atomic clocks. The rubidium clock is fully manufactured inside China and loses only a second per 300 million years.
“No country can stop the historical pace of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” – Xinhua
Thus, the new navigation system is proof that China is working to cut down reliability on foreign help. In recent times, the US government has heavily targetted China and China-based companies. Amidst that, the Chinese navigation system is a subliminal message that China can survive on its own technology. The country makes 500 different parts that are part of the system. It includes the rubidium atomic clocks, which the Chinese team completes in eight months.
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