China’s GPS Competitor BieDou Likely to Get Completed by 2020

BieDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), which is a Chinese satellite navigation system, is almost to get completed after years of work. BieDou is being considered as an alternative to a global navigation satellite system to the United States owned Global Positioning System (GPS). Ren Chengqi, the project led, reveals that the satellite system’s core was completed in December. He is expecting that the last two satellites should reach orbit “before 2020”.

According to a report of Nikkei, almost 70 percent of Chinese smartphones are already compatible with the new technology, and 120 partners have agreed to use BieDou for mapping technology. BieDou is a part of the four-space projects of navigation networks. The other three projects include GPS by the US, Galileo from the European Union, and GLONASS from Russia.

BieDou-1, the first phase of the satellite system, was activated since 2000, aiming to end its dependence on the GPS. It consisted of three satellites providing limited navigation services. It used to serve the users of China and neighboring regions but was decommissioned at the end of 2012. The second generation, known as BieDou-2 or COMPASS, came into operation in China in 2011. However, China launched the third generation BieDou system called BeiDou-3 in 2015. It is consists of 35 satellites and represents the culmination of the satellite system. It includes three IGSO satellites, three GEO satellites as well as twenty-four MEO satellites with new signal frequencies. As per authorities, the accuracy margin of the system is less than five meters.

China’s push for self-developed navigation is all about independence as with Russia’s satellite navigation system, GLONASS. The United States runs GPS, and that provides the option to disable access in the name of its political and military interests. The name “BieDou” comes from the ancient Chinese astronomers gave to the seven brightest stars of the Big Dipper or Plough constellation.