|An illustration to the function of China's Beidou Navigation Satellite System. (Beidou.gov.cn Photo)|
BEIJING - China started to run its own satellite positioning system, Beidou, on Tuesday as the country climbed the global tech ladder and challenged the monopoly of the West.
Beidou, or Big Dipper, the domestic version of the US Global Positioning System (GPS), started providing navigation, positioning and timing data on a pilot basis to China and the neighboring area for free on Tuesday, Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, said.
The system, with 10 orbiting satellites, covers an area from Australia in the south to Russia in the north. Signals can reach the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east, Ran said.
With six more satellites to be launched next year, the system will cover a wider area and eventually the entire globe by 2020 with a constellation of 35 satellites, he said.
The accuracy of the positioning service will also improve as more satellites orbit.
During the trial run Beidou can offer positioning to within 25 meters but when the system is officially launched next year accuracy will be enhanced to within 10 meters, he said.
With the system operational China is the third member of an elite group, along with the US and Russia, to develop a satellite navigation system.