China: China successfully launched its fifth navigation satellite in orbit at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, as a part of its indigenous satellite navigation and positioning network, Beidou. The satellite was launched from the Long March 3I carrier rocket.
It is the 126th flight for the country’s Long March series of rockets. The satellite will join another four satellites in orbit to form a network that will eventually consist of 35 satellites.
The system, code named “COMPASS”, is a crucial part of the country’s space infrastructure for providing navigation and positioning services in transportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring, disaster forecast, telecommunications and public security among others.
China started building its own navigation satellite system to end its dependence upon the US GPS system in 2000, when it sent two orbiters as a double-satellite experimental positioning system.
The system is designed to provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region before 2012 and will be capable of providing global navigation services by 2020.