China is planning to put up to 8 latest navigation satellites into space this year as part of its plan to form an orbitting network and offer worldwide navigation services by 2020. Compared to earlier generation products, the BeiDou-3 is able to cover a wider range and has a longer lifespan of 12 years, Bao Weimin, an official with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency. It is part of a plan to put 35 BeiDou satellites into space to form an orbiting satellite network and offer worldwide navigation services by 2020, Yang Yuanxi, deputy chief designer of the BeiDou satellite navigation system, told official media.
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Named after the Chinese name for the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDou system is designed to offer an alternative to America’s Global positioning System. A government white paper published in December said China expects to provide basic services to limited number of clients in 2018 and expand to all clients with more accurate and reliable services through better ground and satellite-based systems by 2020.
China has already sent 22 BeiDou satellites into space. Yang said the launches this year will feature two satellites on a single carrier rocket.