China adds two more BeiDou-3 satellites for global navigation coverage

By Global Times – Xinhua Source:Global Times – Xinhua Published: 2018/2/12 20:43:39

China launches two more BeiDou-3 satellites

A Long March-3B rocket carrying two BeiDou-3 satellites takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on Monday. Photo: VCG

China on Monday launched two BeiDou-3 satellites into space at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The two satellites were the fifth and sixth in the BeiDou-3 Project. The satellites are said to be part of a fleet that will expand the BeiDou system to a global navigation coverage.

Since January 12, four BeiDou satellites have been sent into space by Long March-3B rockets. It was also the seventh successful launch of the Long March series of rockets this year.

The Chinese navigation system is being developed and deployed in three phases. BeiDou-3 aims for full operational capability by 2020 with a constellation of 35 satellites, according to The Beijing News. The BeiDou-3 network is said to be twice as accurate as the BeiDou-2 network.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the satellite launch site Saturday ahead of the launch.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, inspected preparations for the launch while visiting the site's command center.

He talked with the scientists and engineers, and asked them about their research, work and lives.

He told them to keep pursuing precision and perfection to ensure the success of the launch.

The twin satellites were carried by the Yuanzheng-1 upper-stage on the rocket. Yuanzheng-1, or Expedition-1, is an independent aircraft installed on the carrier rocket with the ability of sending one or more satellites into different orbits in space.

The launch was the 267th mission for the Long March rocket family.

China will send 18 BeiDou-3 satellites around the end of 2018 with Long March-3A rockets, according to the country's schedule.

Among eight of its 14 planned missions in 2018, the Long March-3A rocket will send twin BeiDou-3 satellites into space, said Cen Zheng, rocket system commander-in-chief of the mission.

"China developed a new generation of platform for navigation satellites that enable a single rocket to send two or more satellites into space in 2010," said Wang Ping, the chief designer of BeiDou-3 family. "The lightweight platform is easy to assemble and versatile, which fits the mission to send satellites on one rocket."

Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper, the BeiDou project was formally launched in 1994. It began to serve China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2012.

By around 2020, when the BDS goes global, it will have more than 30 satellites.

Newspaper headline: China launches two more BeiDou-3 satellites

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