GNSS Satellite (GIOVE-A)


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Monday, 19 January 2009

COMPASS/BeiDou Status

According to Chinese officials China plans to launch 10 Compass satellites during the next two years using the Long-March 3 rocket launcher. After the launch of the first test satellite in April 2007, called COMPASS-M1, this would be the real start of this interesting GNSS system.

China plans to establish an independent global satellite navigation system, called COMPASS/BeiDou-2, by launching 30 satellites before 2015. The system will make China independent from foreign systems like GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. The 2015 time frame is similar to the current European Galileo time schedule, so it will be an interesting "battle" who will have the system fully operational first! European officials have been surprised to learn that the first Compass/Beidou medium Earth satellite, COMPASS-M1 launched on April 14, 2007, is providing substantially better atomic-clock timing precision than was expected. China had purchased atomic clocks from a Swiss company, but these were said at the time to be an older technology.

If the Chinese are serious about launching 10 Long-March 3 rockets with Compass satellites there should be a launch soon! Actually a launch was expected in December 2008 but that did not take place. So lets wait and see what happens!

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