On June 23, when the last satellite in the homegrown BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) was successfully launched, completing the third-generation BDS network six months ahead of schedule, it was a milestone for many reasons.
It means the world now has four global navigation networks, provided by the United States, Russia, the European Union and China, representing Asia. China's BDS is more advanced vis-à-vis position accuracy, navigation timing, two-way messaging and providing all-time, all-weather services.
More importantly, the BDS represents independent innovation and self-dependence, which are essential for safeguarding national security and socioeconomic development. The system can support finance, aviation, marine navigation, traffic management, agriculture and law enforcement. Going beyond domestic needs, it can also facilitate global emergency response and rescue operations.
But most importantly, it opens the door to international cooperation and offering global public services.
Since China began exploring a satellite navigation system suitable for its national conditions in the 1980s, it adopted a three-step approach. The first-generation BDS system, completed in 2000, was for domestic use. The second generation version completed in 2012 extended its services to the Asia-Pacific region. The third generation will now provide global services.
The BDS is free and not vying for market share. It is an open system that can be accessed by multi-constellation devices. China upholds a philosophy of open cooperation and resource sharing for the development of the system, carrying out international exchanges and cooperation with the U.S., Russia, and EU to create a compatible global satellite navigation system.
It is also participating in international activities organized by the UN and other multilateral organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union.
The BDS is now used by more than half of the countries in the world. In addition to navigation, BDS-based precision agriculture, digital construction as well as smart port solutions have been developed in the ASEAN, South Asia, East Europe, West Asia and Africa.
By 2035, China plans to build, with the BDS as the core, a more comprehensive, integrated and intelligent comprehensive positioning and navigation time service system.
An important contribution to global satellite navigation development, the system will offer the world more options in sharing higher quality, accurate space-time system services.
(Print Edition Title: Serving the Globe)