China’s GNSS Program, Compass - Beidou 2, Launches New GEO Satellite - Inside GNSS

China’s GNSS Program, Compass – Beidou 2, Launches New GEO Satellite

Chinese Long March rocket with Compass / Beidou satellite payload launched January 17, 2010 (Photo by Qin Xian-an)

China successfully launched another Compass satellite into geostationary orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province at about 0:12 a.m. Beijing Time on Sunday (January 17).

China successfully launched another Compass satellite into geostationary orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province at about 0:12 a.m. Beijing Time on Sunday (January 17).

It was the third satellite in the second-generation Beidou program that China has launched for its GNSS system, following a middle earth orbit (MEO) spacecraft sent up April 14, 2007 and a GEO spacecraft last April 18

On January 15, China also launched a government-run Compass website in Chinese, <www.beidou.gov.cn>, although good translations are available in several browsers. Meanwhile, another Shanghai Navigation Forum (NaviForum) is being planned for September 1 and 2 that will focus on the Compass navigation system. A previous NaviForum in December 2007 included presentations from engineering managers and political officials responsible Compass/Beidou-2. The 2010 event is supported by the China Ministry of Science and High Technology (MOST).

Program officials reasserted plans to complete an initial regional system by 2012 and a complete 35-satellite constellation by 2020, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The new satellite was boosted by a Chang Zheng (Long March-3C) carrier rocket into a geostationary orbit.

A China Daily article on the program underlined the strategic importance of the Compass program.

“Modern weapons, including guided missiles and missile defense systems, all need information supported by navigation satellites,” the newspaper quoted Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based senior military strategist. “Relying on other navigation satellite systems for such information is impossible in wartime.”

The article also cited Cao Chong, a leading expert with China’s Association of Global Navigating Satellite Systems, who urged international cooperation on GNSS.

“If countries could strengthen cooperation, one system’s failure will not have a major impact when there are other systems in place,” Cao said.