Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Beidou navigation system

The Beidou navigation system is a project by the People's Republic of China to develop an independent satellite navigation system. "Beidou" is the Chinese name of the Ursa Major constellation.

Beidou 1A was launched on 30 October 2000 and Beidou 1B followed on 20 December 2000. China plans to complete the system with a second pair, and Beidou 2A was put into orbit on 24 May 2003.

Unlike the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo systems, which offer global positioning, Beidou uses satellites in geostationary orbit. This means that the system does not require a large constellation of satellites, but it also limits the coverage to areas on Earth where the satellites are visible.

China has also associated itself with the Galileo project, which is not yet operational.