Last weekend, China successfully launched two new navigational satellites for its BeiDou Navigational Satellite System (BDS). The second successful launch this year, these two satellites will become the 18th and 19th satellites in the navigational constellation. The satellites were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China on Saturday.
Inside GNSS reported that new BeiDou satellites are a new generation of satellites in the BeiDou constellation and will provide better coverage and more accurate positioning, much like the GPS III satellites under construction in the US. According to an interview with the Shanghai Daily, Xie Jun, chief engineer of the Beidou project, said the “twin sats” are designed to be “trail blazers” as the BDS expands its coverage globally.
Currently BeiDou is a regional system only, covering China and several parts of Asia since its initial launch in 2012. Much like the European Union’s Galileo project, the BeiDou system is expected to be global by 2020. However, unlike Galileo, BeiDou doesn’t seem to be plagued with problems and missteps and might actually make the deadline.
For more information on BeiDou and its varying advancements, check out this Inside GNSS report.