China’s Beidou Positioning Services Challenge GPS and Galileo

In November 2006, China announced plans to launch a series of satellites that would create a space-based navigation network called the “Compass Navigation Satellite System” that would be far more accurate than the existing Beidou (Big Dipper) system. By 1Q 2007, China had already launched two “multi-purpose” navigation satellites, taking a step forward in its drive to develop a positioning system eventually intended to rival the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) and the European Galileo system. The two 1Q 2007 satellites increased the number of China’s experimental navigation satellites in orbit to five. (The previous three were sent into space between October 2000 and May 2003) This cluster of five Beidou satellites now makes ups the principal platform for China’s satellite navigation service. What applications will the Beidou system support? And, what does this emerging system mean for Galileo and GPS?

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