Chinese Beidou system to challenge U.S. dominancy

17:07, March 28, 2011      

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Beidou, the China's second generation of satellite system features services of locating, navigation, timing and even text message communication covering the Asia Pacific region by 2012, said the system chief designer Sun Jiadong.

Such upgrades are perceived by experts as potential great power to break current U.S –Russian dominant structure.

The Beidou system is estimated to be able to perform regional navigation and locating on the successful launch of the third inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) satellite in April 2011.

The GPS is characterized by its distinguished communication function which previous GPS do not have, said Liu Jingnan an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, "The Satellites can help us navigate and can send our location to the headquarters or relatives."

It is expected that the Beidou system will cover the Asia Pacific region around 2012 and that the Beidou navigation system will be installed into every household. Liu also said that actually, the system is just a navigation chip installed in a car or mobile phone.

Liu has also introduced the transportation usage of the Beidou navigation chips. With the same price as their GPS counterparts, the Beidou system can be used to ease traffic jams through its communication functions. Assuming a car is equipped with the Beidou navigation chip, satellites will be able to collect real-time traffic data by locating the vehicle via the Beidou system over the entire road network, and then tell the driver which roads are less congested.

Li Zuhong, deputy chief designer of the Beidou system, said that China aims to build a navigation satellite system uniquely differently from but also compatible with GPS and other similar systems. At present, only the United States, Russia, the European Union and China have developed their own navigation satellite systems. "The construction time of the Beidou system has a direct bearing on the collaborative deployment of the four global navigation satellite systems. The sooner it is completed, the better," he said.

With its third-generation version being under construction, GPS is way ahead in this field, and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) has recovered from the disintegration of the Soviet Union and is catching up. The construction of the Galileo navigation system is delayed due to a lack of funding from the European Union.

At the same time, China is accelerating the construction of its Beidou system to move ahead of the three other global navigation satellite systems. The Beidou system is expected to cover the entire world by 2020.

Literally, "BeiDou" means the seven brightest stars of Ursa Major or 'the Great Bear' constellation "Northern Dipper" in Chinese, the constellation which has been historically used in navigation to locate the North Star Polaris.Thus BeiDou also serves as a metaphor for the purpose of the satellite navigation system.

The BeiDou Navigation System is China's efforts of developing an independent satellite navigation system, it may generally refers to either one or both generations of the Chinese navigation system.

The first generation consists of 3 satellites and has limited coverage and applications. It has been offering navigation services mainly for customers in China and from neighboring regions since 2000.

By Li Yancheng, People's Daily Online

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