China launches another pair of BeiDou-3 satellites

February 12, 2018  - By

China continues to update the BeiDou navigation satellite system. On Feb. 12, two more navigation and positioning satellites were launched into medium Earth orbits, following the successful launch of a pair of BeiDou satellites on Jan. 11.

A Long March 3B rocket with a Yuanzheng-1 upper stage lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, at 13:03 local time (05:03 UTC), according to

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The launch had been set for the same window on Feb. 10, but was delayed by the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to the launch site.

Success of the mission was confirmed four hours after launch, following insertion of the satellites into their intended orbits, around 21,000 kilometers above the Earth.

The newly launched pair are BeiDou-3 28 and 29. The satellites are part of a third phase of Beidou deployment, which will take Beidou coverage from regional to covering the countries along the Belt and Road initiative by the end of 2018, and global by 2020.

According to, the satellites are using a new bus featuring a phased array antenna for navigation signals and a laser retroreflector, with a launch mass of 1,014 kg.

The accuracy, stability and signal strength of the Beidou-3 satellites is improved over previous versions by developments in atomic clocks, laser communications and inter-satellite links.

The Long March 3B/YZ-1 carrying Beidou satellites 28 and 29 lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 13:03 local time on Feb. 12. (Photo: CNS)

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.