China puts final satellite for Beidou navigation network into orbit

A Long March-3B rocket carrying the Beidou-3GEO3 satellite lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on June 23, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China on Tuesday (June 23) successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network, rival to the US-owned GPS.

The mission was originally set for June 16, but was cancelled at the last minute due to technical problems detected during pre-launch tests of the Long March-3B carrier rocket.

The Beidou-3 satellite is the 35th and final satellite of the Chinese navigation system - an estimated US$10 billion (S$13.95 billion) project meant to be Beijing's answer to the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).

The idea to develop Beidou, or the Big Dipper in Chinese, took shape in the 1990s as China's military sought to reduce its reliance on GPS, which is run by the United States Air Force.

Coverage was limited to China when the first Beidou-1 satellites were launched in 2000.

The second generation of Beidou-2 satellites went into operation in 2012, covering the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2015, China began deploying the third generation of Beidou-3 satellites aimed at global coverage.

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