China sent a new-generation satellite into orbit that will support its global navigation and positioning network at 7:13 a.m. Beijing Time on Sept.30 (2313 GMT Sept.29). It was the 20th satellite for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), and put China one step closer to providing an alternative to the U.S.-operated GPS. (Xinhua/Li Xiang)
China currently has over 140 satellites in orbit with stable operation, second only to the U.S. in terms of satellite ownership, said a Chinese engineer from the national defense field at a satellite exhibition.
Satellites have been used in socioeconomic development, resource protection, disaster prevention and relief and for the nurturing of emerging industries, according to Tian Yulong, chief engineer of the China National Space Administration.
Tian mentioned that civilian remote sensing satellites have distributed more than 10 million views of remote sensing data and that the number of users of live satellite TV has exceeded 30 million. Furthermore, the Beidou regional navigation system has covered many industries and over 10 provinces and cities in China.
Currently, the Beidou navigation system has not only been applied to the regional network but also within the global configuration process, said Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office. Ran said that Beidou navigation has been regarded as the third global satellite navigation system by international organizations, following GPS in the U.S. and Russia's GLONASS.
Beidou services are expected to cover most countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by 2018, and offer global coverage by 2020, Ran added.
Although China has many satellites in orbit, the satellites’ on-the-ground application system is in urgent need of development, said Hou Qingguo, Vice President and Secretary General of China Users Association for Satellite Communications, Broadcasting and Television and the Electronics and Information Industry.
Hou also mentioned that satellites will be integrated with the Internet of Things, big data and cloud calculation to widen its market space. Innovative satellite products will become synonymous with China within the industry as they are promoted around the world, as has happened with high-speed rail and nuclear power.