China's GPS system 'Beidou' goes online

CIOL Bureau
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LONDON, UK: China's own satellite navigational system, known as 'Beidou', is now operational after the 10th satellite was placed into orbit this month.


Also known as the 'Big Dipper', 'Beidou' will also offer users positioning information which will be correct up to the nearest 10 metres, be able to measure speeds within 0.2 metres per second and provide clock synchronisation signals accurate up to 0.02 millionths of a second.

China initiated work on the project in 2000, designed to rival the US-run Global Positioning System (GPS). It will also make China's military less dependent on foreign technology.

Ten satellites have been sent into space and a further six will be sent by 2012, extending the system to most parts of Asia. Eventually the network will increase to a total of 35 satellites with global coverage by 2020. Having its own GPS system would also protect China against the risk of the US GPS turning off.

Reports suggest that the network could be used to guide drones to destroy invading naval forces. But the developers are keen to stress that 'Beidou' has plenty of benefits for the mainstream public.