By Alisha Upadhyay
There are, now, four major navigation networks. America’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, European Union’s Galileo, and now Beidou which reaches its operational orbit as of today.
Beidou has taken two decades to complete and its last satellite was launched on 22 June. China’s Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation released a statement on June 30 that the satellite’s navigation processors and inter-satellite payloads and other systems are working normally. The fully operational Beidou system consists of 24 satellites in medium Earth orbit the earlier plan first consisted of a total of 35 satellites.
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Beidou is China’s alternative navigation system for GPS. It’s named after the Chinese word for the Big Dipper constellation. Today, America’s GPS is used for everything from personal navigation to tracking planes and container ships, everyone prefers using GPS. The Beidou navigation network was described as belonging “to the whole world and all mankind” by China. But is it?
It is said that China’s push for Beidou was because it wanted to reduce its dependence on GPS, especially for military purposes. It becomes dangerous when you are using an enemy nation’s navigation system while at war. They could easily distort your system. China’s own navigation system brings them a lot more military advantage and certainty.
Apart from military purposes, China also pushes Beidou for civilian use. However, it is highly possible it would get the same response as it did to the 5G technology. People wouldn’t fail to recognize its risks and suspicions like they did when Huawei, a China-based company started offering 5G services.
However, Countries friendly with China like Pakistan have been granted access. This could be seen in other nations, probably, Asian countries that have agreed to China’s belt and road infrastructure initiative.
India and Japan too, have navigation systems but they operate on a much smaller basis.
Space self-sufficiency is a priority of China’s Made in China initiative which Beijing aims to achieve by 2025. It is also aiming to complete its own space station by 2022 and is on its way to becoming a “space power” by 2030.
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