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  • Takeoff of the Beidou Navigation System satellite, Xichang, China, June 23, 2020.

    Takeoff of the Beidou Navigation System satellite, Xichang, China, June 23, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 June 2020
Opinion

With a maximum margin of error of 10 centimeters, the Chinese geolocation system technologically surpasses GPS, the Galileo, and the GLONASS.

By orbiting a state-of-the-art satellite on Tuesday, China completed its own geolocation system, the BeiDou (BDS), which was named after the Big Dipper and will give its users independence from the U.S. GPS, the European Galileo, and the Russian GLONASS.

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"The satellite has entered orbit and deployed its solar panels. There is no anomaly, the launch has been a complete success," Commander Yin Xiangyuan said.

A few seconds later, the Xichang Control Center director Zhang Xueyu extended his congratulations to all the workers who participated in the project.

"The system will bring new milestones to global navigation systems and be the best in the world," the Chinese Bureau of Satellite Navigation director Ran Chegqi stressed.

The Chinese geolocation system began to be built two decades ago and has 35 satellites in orbit. It will allow this Asian country to offer positioning services with greater precision than GPS, which was originally developed by the U.S. Army.

Besides having more satellites than the GPS, the European Galileo, and the GLONASS, the Beidou will allow its users to have information with a deviation error of maximum 10 centimeters, which is an important advance compared to the current GPS's 30-cm error.

The BDS system will also offer more reliable communication services thanks to its greater bandwidth and more stable and precise atomic clocks, the Chinese Academy of Space Technology maintains.

BDS architect Yang Changfeng explained that the Chinese system is compatible with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, which will allow users to freely choose the system with the best coverage.

Developed with an investment of over US$10 billion, the BDS system is already being used by 120 nations and by 70 percent of existing mobile phones in China.

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