Yesterday, January 18, 2009, Reuters India reported from Beijing, China that over the past weekend China launched the third BeiDou (Big Dipper) or Compass satellite in an effort to build its own global satellite positioning (GPS) system. This latest satellite is part of a proposed constellation of 35 Chinese GPS satellites to be in orbit by the year 2020.
China is competing in space with the United States and Russia, and in addition to these BeiDou or COMPASS satellites also has plans to land on the Moon in 2012. While this instills a great deal of national pride within China, and is increasing the prominence of China in the space arena, this initiative and the overall China space program has alarmed some western counterparts. Within the region, rival India, in response to China’s space ambitions, is now working to increase India’s space program.
As reported, the China BeiDou or COMPASS GPS network will provide the following services: