China’s Navigation Satellite System 'BeiDou' has started offering global service. It is touted as a rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
Pakistan has become the first foreign nation to use the BeiDou system ending its reliance on GPS.
China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System was the fourth global navigation system after US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
China has named its navigation satellite system after the Chinese term which means ‘Big Dipper’. BeiDou-1 consisted of three satellites and was offering navigation services mainly in China and neighboring regions. It was decommissioned in 2012.
The second generation of the navigation system, BeiDou-2 became operational in China in December 2011 with a partial constellation of 10 satellites in orbit and started providing services in the Asia-Pacific region from December 2012. The third generation of the navigation system, BeiDou-3 began to provide global services from 27th December 2018.
China plans to have a total of 33 satellites operating in orbit for BeiDou by the end of 2018 which includes 15 BeiDou-2 satellites and 18 BeiDou-3 satellites.
China also plans to launch another 11 BDS-3 satellites and one BDS-2 satellite in the coming two years to form the complete global network, Ran said.