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China’s BDS-3 system to offer global services

Updated: 2019-01-10

China's BDS-3 system, under the country's fledging BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, recently completed its basic stage and started to offer global services, a key step as the BDS develops from a domestic Chinese navigation system to a regional and a global one, according to a State Council Information Office news conference on Dec 27, 2018.

The BDS-3 system has maintained stable and perfect service availability from its first navigation satellite sent into space on Nov 5, 2017 to the 10th launch of two new BDS-3 satellites on Nov 19, 2018 and the successful launch of its 19 BDS-3 satellites.

The launch vehicle and the navigation satellite systems of the BDS were developed by the No 1 and No 5 institutes of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) respectively. CASC is a large state-owned enterprise with its own independent intellectual properties and famous brands.

Independently developed and operated by China, the BDS is a global navigation satellite system that is compatible with other international navigation satellite systems, providing all kinds of users with high-precision and reliable positioning navigation and timing services anywhere in the world.

Since the 1990s, China has initiated the research and development of the BDS based on a three-phase plan: from active to passive, regional to global and BDS-1 and BDS-2 to BDS-3 systems. The country has blazed a path for building a satellite navigation system with Chinese characteristics.

On Dec 27, 2012, the BDS began to offer services to the Asia-Pacific region. On the same day six years later it initiated services to countries and regions around the world.

Over past years the development of the BDS has witnessed the hardship and efforts made by scientists and technicians who have always demonstrated a spirit of "independent innovations, unity and collaboration, overcoming difficulties, and the pursuit of excellence".

The system has broken hundreds of key technology thresholds to ensure improved services in the Asia-Pacific region, complete construction of global constellation networking and drive the overall aerospace capability of the nation.

2018 was an extraordinary and busy year for the development of the BDS, with many breakthroughs made in networking construction and launch events, stable operation of the systems, international cooperation and significant applications.   

First, BDS' high-density networking has boosted the system's ability to provide high-quality global services, setting new records in the world satellite navigation system and launching of single-type space vehicles in China.

Second, the stable and highly reliable operation of the BDS ensures services in the Asia-Pacific region, advances R&D of the backup satellites, refines orbit control strategies, operates the ground system, strengthens global assessment and improves service performance.

Third, intensified international cooperation has become a key part of the BDS in the past year. It includes the 13th Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellites System (ICG), the establishment of the first overseas GNSS center and the signing of the inter-governmental agreement on satellite navigation cooperation between China and Russia.

The high-precision characteristics of the BDS have also driven the development of new breakthroughs in applications.

One example is basic products such as BDS chips and modules, with total sales exceeding 70 million units. Another is BDS high-precision products, which have been exported to more than 90 countries and regions across the globe. Systematic services of the ground-based technologies and products have been offered in areas involved in the Belt and Road Initiative as well as other overseas markets. 

To date, the satellite and ground system of the BDS has maintained a stable development pace and been able to offer global services. 

From 2019 to 2020, China will launch a total of 11 BDS-3 satellites and one BDS-2 satellite to further improve its global services and complete the constellation networking.

Providing global services is a big step and a new starting point for the BDS' future development.

By 2020, the global network of the BDS-3 system is expected to be fully completed.

A more intelligent comprehensive positioning, navigation and time (PNT) system based on the BDS will also be completed by 2035.

(Executive editor: Li Shuling)

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