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China launches fourth 'Beidou' navigation satellite

Long March 3III carrier rocket from Xichang carrying the Beidou navigation satellite

BEIJING (BNS): China has launched its fourth indigenously-built navigation satellite Beidou into space.

The satellite, the second to have been launched this year, was sent on board a Long March 3III carrier rocket from Xichang of Sichuan province on Wednesday night, the China Daily reported. The previous Beidou was launched on January 17, 2010.

The newly-launched satellite will join the three existing orbiters to allow travelers, drivers and military officials to know their locations.

China plans to put a total of 12 Beidou systems in orbit by 2012 which will provide navigation, time and short message services across the Asia and Pacific region. The system will be upgraded to a global navigation network by 2020 when China would put 35 such satellites in orbit, the report said.

With the latest launch, China moved a step closer to build its indigenous Compass system similar to that of the US's Global Positioning System (GPS), European Union's Galileo satellite system and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the news report said.

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