China launches twin BeiDou navigation satellites
China on Monday sent two new satellites of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) into space on a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.
The satellites entered a medium earth orbit more than three hours later and will work with 17 other BDS-3 satellites already in space. They are also the 42nd and 43rd satellites of the BDS satellite family, Xinhua news agency reported.
With the successful launch, the basic BDS constellation deployment is complete. China plans to provide navigation services with the BDS-3 to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of this year.
"This is a key step for BDS developing from a domestic experimental system to a regional and then a global navigation system," said Yang Changfeng, chief designer of the BeiDou system.
The positioning accuracy of the BDS-3 system has been improved to 2.5 meters to 5 meters, up to twice as high as the BDS-2 system, said Yang.
Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDou system started serving China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.
China plans to launch another six BDS-3 satellites to the medium earth orbits, three satellites to the inclined geosynchronous earth orbit and two satellites to the geostationary earth orbit from 2019 to 2020.
The system will provide first-class services around the globe by the end of 2020.
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