China launched the capstone satellite for the Beidou navigation constellation Tuesday, adding the final piece to a global network to rival the U.S. military’s GPS fleet providing positioning, timing, and search and rescue services.
Ground crews at the Xichang launch center in China postponed the launch of a Long March 3B rocket into orbit Tuesday that was to complete the deployment of the Beidou navigation fleet, a project approved by the Chinese government in 1994 to end reliance on the U.S. military’s GPS network.
A Chinese Long March 3B launcher carried a Beidou satellite into orbit Monday, adding the penultimate satellite to China’s independent navigation fleet before another mission in May completes the constellation to give it a global reach.
Two Chinese Beidou navigation satellites successfully launched Monday on top of a Long March 3B rocket, completing the core of China’s independent positioning and timing network ahead of the start of global service next year.
Maintaining a rapid-fire launch cadence to close out the year, China added two more Beidou satellites to its independent positioning, navigation and timing fleet Saturday with a successful launch aboard a Long March 3B rocket.
China launched a Beidou navigation satellite Friday using a Long March 3C rocket, adding another node to a growing space-based network that Chinese officials say will broadcast positioning and timing signals around the world next year.