China launches final Beidou satellite to complete its navigation system

A Long March 3B rocket launched the final Beidou Navigation Satellite (BDS) into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China around 9:43 a.m. Beijing time after a week-long delay due to a technical problem with the rocket.

China launches final Beidou satellite to complete its navigation system
China launches final Beidou satellite to complete its navigation system

China launches final Beidou satellite to complete its navigation system

China successfully launched its Beidou satellite constellation on June 23 completing its global navigation system. A Long March 3B rocket launched the final Beidou Navigation Satellite (BDS) into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China around 9:43 a.m. Beijing time after a week-long delay due to a technical problem with the rocket.

Traditionally, China waits to announce launches until a satellite successfully deploys in orbit. But in a rare turn, the Beidou satellite’s launch was announced in advance and broadcast live on TV and online, with an English translation available on state service provider CCTV, which normally provides video clips after successful launches.

The launch of the final satellite of China’s indigenous BeiDou system had been previously scheduled on June 16, but was delayed after technical problems were found with the Long March-3B rocket in pre-launch tests.

China began developing its Beidou satellite system in the 1990s, with the first satellite launching in October 2000. A lengthy upgrade of the system beginning in 2009, Xinhua said in a report last month.

The latest iteration, called BDS-3, consists of 30 satellites for applications ranging from high-precision positioning to short message communications. The BDS-3 network had 29 operational satellites ahead of this latest launch.

The BDS-3 system’s satellites have “higher bandwidth, enabling enhanced communication capability and carrying more accurate … atomic clocks to improve the precision of timing and navigation services” when compared to their BDS-2 predecessors, according to a report by China’s Global Times.

The core BDS-3 system began operations in 2018, but this latest launch will improve the signal strength and coverage for users around the world, according to the report.