Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China to Send at Least 6 BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellites into Space in 2017

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China is planning to send off between six and eight BeiDou-3 satellites this year, according to Yang Yuanxi, BeiDou satellite navigation system's deputy chief designer.

The launch is part of its plan to send at least 35 BeiDou satellites into space and create an orbiting satellite network and offer navigation services worldwide by the end of the decade.

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The announcement was made on Monday at the sidelines of the fifth session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.

Derived from the Chinese name for the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDu system is an alternative to GPS. Its BeiDou-3 is capable of covering a wider range and has a longer lifespan of 12 years, Bao Weimin, a CPPCC National Committee member, and an official of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said.

Last year, China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is on course to expand its services worldwide. It is poised to serve nations along the Belt and Road initiative by 2018 and the rest of the world by the end of the decade. China also released a white paper discussing the country's three-step strategy to develop BeiDou system with the aim of launching at least 35 satellites by 2020 to provide all-time, all-weather, and highly accurate positioning, navigation, and timing services to worldwide users.

BeiDou's chip modules and other infrastructure products have already been made available to certain products such as smartphones, laptops, and wearables. The technology has already weaned China off its dependency on imported navigation products.

Currently, China has launched 22 BeiDou satellites into space. And this year, China will launch two satellites using a single carrier rocket into space

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