China threw two BeiDou satellites into space on Dec. 16. According to Yang Changfeng, BeiDou constellation chief designer, this brings to 24 the total of medium-Earth orbit (MEO) BDS-3 satellites in orbit, bringing completion to the core system. China has stated its mission to complete the BDS-3 constellation by 2020.
Meanwhile, a new Glonass-M navigation satellite, launched Dec. 10, has reached its orbital plane and begun testing preparatory to entering the Russian GLONASS constellation.
This effectively expands BeiDou’s service from regional to global. “Its establishment will mark the end of China’s dependence on foreign navigation satellites in positioning and timing overseas,” said Ping Wang, chief satellite designer.
“BDS now has the full capacity for global service,” added Yang Changfeng.
Beidou also includes six satellites in higher geosynchronous orbits, three in inclined geosynchronous orbits and three stationary over the Equator.
The Russian Ministry of Defense that its GLONASS satellite was deployed in its targeted orbit, and was operating normally. Designated No. 59, it will replace an aging spacecraft in the fleet.
[Photos: GLONASS, left,, Russian Ministry of Defense. BeiDOU, (right), Chines Satellibbte navigation Office.