|China launches "Compass" navigation satellite|
At 4:11 am, April 14, China sent a "Compass" navigation satellite into space on a Long March 3-A carrier rocket. About 14 minutes after blast-off, the satellite separated from the carrier rocket and entered its pre-set orbit "accurately", according to data from Xi'an Satellite Tele-Tracking and Controlling Center.
This latest Compass-M1 satellite, orbiting at 21,500 kilometers above the earth, is part of China's plan to construct the "Compass" navigational system, sources say. No longer just an "experimental" satellite, its successful launch heralds the beginning of a new era in the system's construction.
China to meet its navigation needs and those of neighbors by 2008
Over the next few years China will launch more Compass series satellites to meet its own and others navigation needs by 2008, gradually building a global system through network construction and experimentation. The system will chiefly serve the national economy by providing efficient positioning services for transportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring, disaster forecasting, telecommunications and public security, among others.
The satellite and carrier rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The launch represents the 97th flight of China's Long March series of rockets.
Experimental "Compass" system high-functioning
Important space infrastructure, a satellite navigation system, like a radio navigation station in space, combines the advantages of traditional celestial navigation and ground radio navigation systems, experts say. It can have tremendous economic benefits but only a few countries in the world are currently capable of developing their own navigation systems.
Since 2000, China has sent four experimental "Compass" satellites into space to form a test navigation system. The system is capable of providing time and GPS information to China and neighboring countries. It has played a big role in prospecting, telecommunications, water conservation, transportation and many other fields.
China needs to have its own global positioning system
A satellite navigation and positioning system is of great significance in defending national interests as it touches political, economic and military fields. The first GPS network was put into operation by the United States in 1973, for both military and civilian purposes. Since then, the US has provided highly accurate positioning signals to its military but lower-accuracy signals to other users. Currently, only an elite group of Americans know the accurate position of any object on earth, while other countries are only provided with the "rough" details.
China has been a big country in terms of GPS application since it introduced its first GPS receiver in the 1980s. China is not only capable of having its own global position system; it needs one given its vast territory.
By People's Daily Online