China no longer needs your GPS

If you don’t already know this - current GPS system used all over the world for navigation and many other things is a US based system. But China can now use their own version of satellite positioning system called Beidou.

It’s not quite worldwide yet but it is already offering positioning and timing services over China and other surrounding areas. This is done with only 10 satellites. By 2020 they’ll have 35 satellites in orbit which will provide a worldwide coverage.

China’s military is one of the biggest of the world and with Beidou they’re cutting their dependance on U.S. Their navigation system will offer 10 meter accuracy for civilians and an undisclosed level of accuracy for military purposes.

This is better US’ current system but with GPSIII America is planning to catch up with modern times.

Images shown are from Analytical Graphics, Inc. which shows that Beidou satellites provide regular coverage over China and South China Sea, but they currently provide very little to no coverage elsewhere in the world.

China adds a new satellite to their own Beidou navigation system

China at 5:07 a.m. on Friday, sent their 10th navigation satellite to orbit in an effort to complete their own navigation system known as Beidou. The satellite was strapped to a Long March-3A carrier rocket. Beidou is currently functional but only provides position information for China and its surrounding areas as opposed to the whole globe unlike US’ GPS.

Beidou is on track with its progress. The plan is to have 30 satellites circling the Earth by the year 2020. The start date for the whole thing was 2000.

China pushes Beidou satellite navigation system

Earlier this month China launched their 5th Beidou navigation satellite into Earth’s orbit, slowly building their navigation and positioning satellite network. So far this year China have launched three Beidou satellites. When completed China will become the third nation in the world to have navigation satellite network circling Earth orbit, following - of course - the United States, and Russia - while EU still struggles to get Galileo going.

According to Wired China will shoot another 8-10 satellites up into the sky by 2012 for regional coverage and hopefully Beidou will be able to provide global coverage by 2020…

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Chinese Beidou navigation satellite now in orbit

China keeps adding to their Beidou navigation constellation up in orbit. They just launched Long March 3C rocket carrying another navigation satellite toward their own navigation system. Also called Compass, the navigation satellites will provide location information free for everyone with 10 meters accuracy but a more precise position fix will be available to the military.

China expects to put up 35 of these satellites up in orbit for a global coverage by 2020.

As we’ve talked about before a few other nations are also trying to get their navigation satellites up in orbit to stop relying on U.S. for location information.

China puts new navigation satellite in orbit

china-compass-gpsChina just put a new navigation satellite in orbit. This the first one of ten scheduled to be put in space before the end of the year. Called Compass-G2, the satellite is part of a plan to free China from American dependence when it comes to global positioning. China’s navigation satellites are part of the Beidou project which has been underway for a quite a while now.

Previous reports said China planed to complete its independent global satellite navigation system by launching about 30 more orbiters before 2015, with 10 navigation satellites into the space in 2009 and 2010. The current Compass system only provides regional navigation service within China and neighboring regions.

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China wants the ability to destroy GPS satellites when above China

According to the annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the Chinese military is acquiring the “ability to destroy or temporarily incapacitate every enemy space vehicle when it is located above China”.

The Chinese also plan to attack U.S. global positioning system (GPS) satellites through various means, including anti-satellite weapons, high-energy weapons, high-energy weather monitoring rockets and ground attacks on earth-based stations.

I guess if this ever happens, then U.S. would bring down China’s Beidou - and then not to be left out of the game Russian would attempt to hit EU’s Galileo satellites until every positioning satellite left in orbit is knocked out of the sky. So if you ever experience some sort of interruption in your GPS signal reception you can be sure that WWIII has started. But seriously, check out our article on navigation satellite programs if you want to learn about other nations’ GPS programs… via

navigation satellite wars

GPS is not the only global navigation satellite system out there, at least not for long. There are other nations trying to break their dependence from USA’s globally available free service - which can be shut down at will of U.S. military. Not to mention GPS (Navstar) is aging (even older than 1st generation iPods!!!) fast and it needs some serious upgrading.

European Union - Galileo

Initiated in 1999, Galileo is a joint effort of European countries. When first started, the U.S. opposed the plans stating that it would end their ability to control positioning satellites in military conflict scenarios. The pressure from the U.S. backfired and as a result the Galileo project was over-funded by European nations who decided it was crucial to be independent of U.S. controlled GPS.

The total cost of the system is expected to be around €3 billions. Galileo is funded by EU nations and China.

Primarily intended for civilians, Galileo will support different kinds of services: OS (open service) will broadcast in two bands (1164–1214 MHz and at 1563–1591 MHz) and when both are used you’ll be able to get <4 meter accuracy. CS (commercial service) will require a fee but if used with ground stations it will be able provide accuracy of less than 10 cm’s. It will use an extra band at 1260–1300 MHz in addition to the OS frequencies.

  • Number of satellites: 30
  • Completion Date: 2011
  • Current Status: First satellite launched in December 2005 and first ‘Galileo’ signal received in January 2006.

China - Beidou

China’s Beidou was first planned to be used for military purposes but Chinese government has already announced it will be free for civilians as well. This would conflict with EU’s Galileo which plans to profit from selling of receivers and subscriptions to benefit from high accuracy signals.

  • Completion Date: Coverage of China and neighbors by 2008 - global coverage in later years
  • Number of satellites: 35
  • Current Status: 4 satellites in orbit

russia-flag-001.gifRussia - Glonass

Russia’s Glonass has a long history which goes as far back as the peak of Cold War. The Glonass system has never been globally available since then, mostly due to instability in Soviet Union and current Russia. India, and possibly China, collaborate with Russia on Glonass. Since 1992 Russia has launched 44 satellites, some of which are no longer in service. Glonass’ civilian signal - which is only available half the time in Russia, and less globally - can provide <100 meters of accuracy. Military signals are better, providing accuracy of <15 meters. Russia has announced that it would make military grade signals available this year.

  • Completion Date: 2011
  • Number of satellites: 24
  • Current Status: 16 in orbit, 5 of which is switched off. 12 more scheduled to be in orbit in the next two years

India - IRNSS

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, IRNSS, was recently approved with a budget just over $300 million. IRNSS is planned to provide only regional coverage provided by 7 satellites.

  • Number of satellites: 7
  • Completion Date: 2011
  • Current Status: First satellite to be launched in 2008

USA - Navstar (GPS)

It is the only fully functional, globally available navigation satellite system so far. It is free for everybody on this planet. The first one of the satellites was launched in 1978 and the system has been fully operational since 1995. However the satellites get old and need to be replaced and technological advancements require GPS to be upgraded.

The modernization has been approved since 2000 and is called GPS III. The new system will provide capabilities such as to shut off GPS service to a limited geographical location while providing GPS to US forces. The new GPS III satellites will still provide legacy capabilities while adding high-powered, anti-jam military-code signals.

These satellites will have about 500 times the transmitter power of the current system, multiplying its resistance to jamming. With a constellation of 30-32 satellites, GPS III will have second and third frequencies to contain civilian signal, L2 & L5, more robust signal transmissions, and provide real-time unaugmented 1 meter accuracy.

Completion Date: 2011
Number of satellites: 24+
Current Status: Fully functional, upgrade in process