Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Beidou navigates its way to global stage

Updated: 2013-11-22 17:18
By Gao Yuan (

China should speed its young satellite-navigation project and achieve global coverage "as soon as possible" to fight off competitors, experts said on Friday.

"Although the Beidou project came late, it is better equipped with cutting-edge technologies compared to the global positioning system created in the United States and the European Union’s Galileo system," said Jonathan Ladd, chairman of the US-based navigation service company Hemisphere GNSS Inc.

"The Chinese global navigation satellite system has a special opportunity to become the premier GNSS platform worldwide with the help of growing demands both in and out of China," Ladd said.

Growth of the global navigation market is on track to hit $220 billion by 2020, more than 10 percent annual growth, Europe’s GNSS agency estimated.

Beidou, also known as Compass, was put into commercial use late last year as a supplement to the widely used GPS platform. The system is currently covering the Asia-Pacific region, serving China and a number of nations in Southeast Asia.

Industry insiders worry that Beidou could lose its technology edge if the satellite network is not strong enough. Because Beidou is "mostly blind" in the rest of the world, the government has to put more satellites into orbit, said David Vaughn, senior adviser to the Beijing-based navigation device maker UniStrong Science and Technology Co.

On average, only two Beidou satellites are visible in Europe, while visibility averages less than one in the US, according to Vaughn. Satellite positions relative to Earth's surface change constantly during their orbits.

At least four satellites will be required simultaneously to provide highly accurate service, Vaughn said.

Huang Xian, a researcher from an industry watchdog, the China Satellite Navigation Office, said the country will promote Beidou-based applications mostly in the Asia-Pacific region because of the coverage limits.

Current applications include vessel monitoring, typhoon observation and positioning services for civil use.

The Beidou system currently has 16 satellites and is expected to grow to 30 satellites by 2020, government sources said.