China launches 22nd BeiDou navigation satellite

China has successfully launched 22nd new generation satellite into space as part of its domestic BeiDou Navigation System (BDS). It was launched using Long March-3A carrier rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in the south-western province of Sichuan. It was the 225th launch of the Long March carrier rocket.

About BeiDou Navigation System (BNS)

  • BNS is 2nd generation of the Chinese navigational system seen as rival to the US's Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • It is named after the Big Dipper constellation, which is known in Chinese as Beidou.
  • BeiDou is Mandarin means magnetic Compass which was one of the Chinese major invention in the history which had revolutionized the sea voyages.
  • The system comprises total 35 satellites in two separate satellite constellations (i) Limited test system (operational since 2000) (ii) A full-scale global navigation system which is currently under construction.
  • The satellite, after entering its designed work orbit and finishing in-orbit testing, will join others already in orbit and improve the stability of the system, preparing for BDS to offer global coverage.
  • The BNS became operational in China in December 2011, with the constellation of 10 satellites. In December 2012, the system began offering services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region and on its completion in 2020 it will provide services to global customers.
  • After completion, the project would become an equivalent of the US Global Positioning System, Russia's Glonass, and Europe's Galileo
  • Historically, this set of stars was used in navigation to locate the North Star Polaris. As such, the name BeiDou also serves as a metaphor for the purpose of the satellite navigation system.
  • Applications: (i) Civilian services: navigation, messaging, transportation and weather forecasting sectors. (ii) Military applications: ensure privacy for its military communications and missile launches by reducing the dependence on US operated GPS.

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