China to Launch Navigation Satellite for Global Network

China to Launch Navigation Satellite for Global Network


China is planning its own system of navigation satellites, in direct challenge to GPS and Galileo.

A Bediou satellite was launched recently, bringing the number of Chinese navigation satellites orbiting Earth to three. They are part of the Compass Navigation Satellite System, which is planned to cover all of China and some of neighboring countries by next year.

China says that the satellite system, which is projected to be accurate to within 10 meters, will be open access. Whether this is true remains to be seen. The country is notoriously secretive about its scientific endeavors but has been very forthcoming of late with details of this system, which is planned to operate on the same frequency as Galileo and eventually have 30 medium-earth orbiters that could provide global coverage.

Depending on your preference for navigation information, you might be worried about this Chinese expansion into American and European skies. If it’s a global presence, though, presumably it would be open access. That, too, remains to be seen. What we don’t have is a timetable for the Great Leap Forward into the Sky.