China is preparing to develop its own independent global satellite navigation system by 2015, which would make it the third world power to develop such a Global Positioning System (GPS). Called Compass, it will upgrade the Beidou navigation system launched in 2007, and will have both military as well as civil applications, the official Xinhua new agency reported, quoting a senior space official.
China plans to send 10 navigation satellites into the space between 2009 and 2010 for the purpose, said Zhang Xiaojin, director of astronautics department with China Aerospace Science. He said the plan was to establish a global navigation system consisting of more than 30 satellites by the year 2015, which will shake off country's dependence on foreign systems.
Currently, the US developed GPS is the world leader.
The Russians have launched their system, called Glossnoss, and the European Union have the Galileo Positioning System. The US's GPS has been widely used for commercial navigation in vehicles, cell phones and other civilian devices in China. These could be guided by its own satellites worldwide after Compass becomes operational.
Satellite navigation and positioning systems are important infrastructure facilities in outer space. They combine the advantages of traditional celestial navigation and positioning with ground radio navigation and positioning, and are the equivalent of a radio navigation station installed in outer space.