China launched a new-generation satellite into space for its indigenous global navigation and positioning network at 9:52 p.m. Beijing Time Monday.
Launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, the satellite was boosted by a Long March-3C carrier rocket developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
It is the 17th satellite for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). The launch marked the beginning of expanding the regional BDS to global coverage.
The latest satellite will be tasked with testing a new type of navigation signaling and inter-satellite links, providing a basis to start building the global network, according to the center.
An independent aircraft was installed on the carrier rocket, marking the first time China has used such technology in blasting off spacecraft into medium to high orbit.
The independent aircraft, dubbed a "shuttle bus in space", can send one or more spacecraft into different orbits in space.
China launched the first BDS satellite in 2000. The BDS began providing positioning, navigation, timing and short message services to civilian users in China and surrounding areas in the Asia-Pacific in December 2012.
The system has been gradually put into use in extended sectors including transportation, weather forecasting, the marine fishing industry, forestry and telecommunications.
The new satellite was developed by the Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites, a non-profit organization established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shanghai Municipal Government.
(Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2015)