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China launches third navigation satellite

An orbiter is launched by a Long-March-3III carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Jan. 17, 2010. It was the third orbiter that China has launched for its independent satellite navigation and positioning network, also known as Beidou, or Compass system. Xinhua Photo

BEIJING (BNS): China successfully launched its third navigation satellite, as part of the country's independent global satellite navigation system.

The Long-March-3 carrier rocket also known as Beidou for the COMPASS system was launched from the Xichang space center in the country's southwest.

The satellite navigation project, named “Compass” is a crucial part of the country's space infrastructure for providing navigation and positioning services in transportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring, disaster forecast, telecommunications and public security among others.

"After the third orbiter's launch, the system would play a major role in providing services for national security, environment, traffic, logistics and other economic activities," Xinhua quoted Sun Jiadong, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the COMPASS system's chief designer as saying.

“Compass” currently comprises five geostationary Earth orbit satellites. Around 30 more satellites are expected to be orbited by 2015, of which 10 are scheduled for launch in 2009-2010.

After completion, the project would become an equivalent of the U.S.'s Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia's Glonass, and Europe's Galileo.

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