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China to soon launch fifth orbiter of GPS system into space

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Long March 3III carrier rocket from Xichang carrying the Beidou navigation satellite. A file photo.

BEIJING (PTI): China will soon launch its fifth orbiter as part of its satellite navigation and positioning network Beidou, or Compass system, as a step towards putting in place its own GPS.

An official with the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in southwestern Sichuan Province, said that the satellite would be launched on the Long March 3I carrier rocket in the coming days, adding it would take place "at a proper time".

If launched successfully, the satellite will join four other satellites in orbit to form a network that will eventually consist of 35 satellites.

China started building its own satellite navigation system to end its dependence upon the US GPS system in 2000, when it sent two orbiters as a double-satellite experimental positioning system.

Beidou, as the system is called, is designed to provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region in about 2010 and will be capable of providing global navigation services by 2020, Xinhua reported.

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