ChinaLaunches ‘Compass’ Navigation Satellite

14 April 2007

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SichuanProvince, China — China on early Saturday morning launched a navigationsatellite, part of the country’s “Compass” navigational system, whichis expected to provide services to customers all over China and neighboringcountries by 2008.

The carrier rocket, Long March 3-A, blasted off from the Xichang SatelliteLaunch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province at 4:11 a.m., and sourceswith the center said that the satellite had “accurately” entered itsorbit, at the height of 21,500 km.

The “Compass” navigational system is mainly designed for thecountry’s economic development, providing navigation and positioning services intransportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring,disaster forecast, telecommunications and public security, among others.

With more satellites to be sent into orbits in the coming years, the systemwill cover China and its neighboring countries by 2008,before being expandedinto a global network of navigation and positioning.

On February 3, China successfully put a test “Compass” satelliteinto the orbit, the fourth of such experimental satellites launched since 2000.

Experts said the “Compass” navigation experimental system isoperating well and has played a significant role in providing all-weather andall-day navigation and positioning information.

China is one of the few countries that are capable of developing navigationsatellite system on its own. Previous reports said it will provide clients withpositioning accuracy within 10 meters, velocity accuracy with 0.2 meter persecond and timing accuracy within 50 nanoseconds.

The system can help clients know their location at any time and place withaccurate longitude, latitude and altitude data, and will offer “safer”positioning, velocity, timing communications for authorized users.

The system includes at least 35 satellites, five geostationary Earth orbit(GEO) and 30 medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites, according to previous reports.

China is willing to cooperate with other countries in developing itssatellite navigation industry to allow the “Compass” system to operatewith other global satellite positioning systems such as the United States’ GPS,Russia’s GLONASS and Europe’s GALILEO navigational system, sources said.

The satellite and carrier rocket were developed respectively by the ChinaAcademy of Space Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology,which are under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The launch represents the 97th flight of China’s Long March series of rockets.

China’s first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou V, blasted off in October 2003,making China the third nation after the Soviet Union and the United States tosend a human into space, and another manned spaceship Shenzhou VI carrying twoastronauts circled around the Earth continuously for five days before a safereturn in October, 2005.

China’s next manned space flight Shenzhou VII, the third in its space program,is scheduled to take place in 2008.

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