Twin BeiDou navigation satellites rocket into orbit from Xichang, China

World Today

CHINA BEIDOU LONG MARCH ROCKET SATELLITE A Chinese Long March 3B rocket blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center with two navigation satellites on board.

China’s BeiDou satellite constellation grew with the launch of two new navigation satellites, carried into orbit by a single rocket launched from Xichang. Both represent significant upgrades compared to previous models, and will provide greater help to those getting around on the ground.

CGTN’s Tang Bo reports.

The 28th and 29th satellites for China’s BeiDou Navigation System lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Monday afternoon.

A Chinese-made Long March-3B rocket flew for more than three hours before delivering the twin satellites into orbit more than 20,000 kilometers above the Earth.

The satellites are part of the third phase of the BeiDou Navigation System. Each carries a rubidium atomic clock, which will vastly improve the system’s positioning accuracy. Compared to the atomic clocks on prior orbiters, the new ones are smaller, lighter, and more advanced.

Other new technologies ensured the satellites were safely delivered into space.

“If the carrier rocket sends the upper stage to an orbit lower or higher than intended, a redundancy system will help bring the ‘shuttle bus’ back on track before releasing the satellites,” according to Hao Jun, a commander at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Engineers plan to send 16 more satellites into space this year. The entire BeiDou system is expected to be fully up and running by 2020.


Leory Chiao discusses China’s growing BeiDou satellite constellation

China’s Beidou satellite constellation grew with the launch of two new navigations satellites, carried into orbit by a single rocket launched from Xichang. Both represent significant upgrades compared to previous models, and will provide greater help to those getting around on the ground. Leory Chiao, CEO of OneOribt and a former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, discusses with CGTN’s Elaine Reyes.