Directions 2014: Serve the World, Benefit Mankind — A System Matures

December 1, 2013  - By
Chengqi Ran

Chengqi Ran

By Chengqi Ran, Director General of the China Satellite Navigation Office

By adhering to the principles of independence, openness, compatibility, and gradualness, China has steadily pushed forward the deployment of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), following a planned three-step strategy. In 2000, BeiDou Navigation Satellite Demonstration System was completed. By December 2012, five geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, five inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) satellites, and four medium-Earth orbit (MEO) satellites had been launched, forming the constellation, and formally beginning service provision to the Asia-Pacific region.

The important contribution of BDS for Chinese and global users is well-recognized. It will provide services to global users by around 2020.

System Deployment

Moving forward in 2014, additional satellites will be launched to form the next constellation, while regional service performances will be advanced and expanded to worldwide scope. Approximately 40 satellites in total will have been launched by about 2020.

Current System Performance

Single-frequency horizontal, vertical, and three-dimensional positioning accuracy has been achieved at levels better than 10 meters, 10 meters, and 14 meters, respectively. Timing accuracy is better than 50 nanoseconds. Velocity accuracy is better than 0.2 meters per second. Carrier-phase differential accuracy is about 2–3 centimeters. During the past year, BDS has been continuously improved and enhanced, while its service performances in some regions dramatically surpassed the indicators given earlier.

Application Promotion

The application of BDS has played an important role in China, especially in advancing science and technology. Chinese scientists and engineers have intelligently and enthusiastically embraced China’s independent navigation satellite system and have made great progress in research and development of navigation satellite technologies, as well as new breakthroughs in the production of navigation chips, antennas, terminals, and integrated services.

In 2012, the total output value of China’s satellite navigation and location-based service (LBS) industries reached 81 billion renminbi (RMB, equivalent to $13.2 billion), which amounts to 8 percent of the global sector. At the end of 2012, BDS civil user terminals totaled 230,000 units, and BDS-related industrial output value was close to 4 billion RMB ($652 million), which is about 5 percent of the national output.

A series of policies aimed at strengthening the application of satellite navigation are under formulation in China, and the Mid- and Long-Term Development Plan for the National Satellite Navigation Industry has been issued. Satellite navigation has become one of the emerging industries with strategic importance. BDS is propelling China’s satellite navigation and LBS industries into a new era.

Distribution of visible in-orbit BeiDou satellites.

Distribution of visible in-orbit BeiDou satellites.

International Cooperation

China upholds and adheres to the concept of “BeiDou is of China, and also of the world,” advocating compatibility and interoperability among navigation satellite systems, and endeavoring to stimulate global widespread use of navigation satellite systems. To enable users to enjoy more reliable and ensured satellite navigation services, BDS has joined in international GNSS monitoring and assessment cooperation, making use of global monitoring stations, sharing international monitoring statistics, implementing joint assessment studies, and striving to offer trustworthy monitoring and assessment data and products to users.

To achieve BDS’ envisioned coverage area more quickly, the BeiDou+ Application Demonstration and Experience Campaign (BADEC) has been initiated. “BeiDou’s tour to the Asian-Pacific region” and “BeiDou’s tour to the ASEAN” have been kicked off to accelerate application promotion of navigation satellite systems in many countries. To popularize satellite navigation technologies, particularly enhancing its recognition and application in developing countries, BDS has provided academic education, short-term training, and thematic lectures with support from International GNSS Exchange and Training Center.

China also holds the annual China Satellite Navigation Conference, actively participates in international exchange activities on satellite navigation, and engages in academic exchanges, high-level forums, and popularization of knowledge.

Future Outlook

BDS is also committed to:

  • establishing navigation-satellite augmentation systems in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide, developing better service performances, to provide decimeter-level accuracy in real time and centimeter-level accuracy after post-processing;
  • setting up satellite-navigation products-quality testing certification centers;
  • speeding up formulation of standards and intellectual property rights;
  •  joining international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Third-Generation mobile communication standard Partnership Project (3GPP);
  • strengthening compatibility and interoperability with the other navigation satellite systems;
  • promoting BDS/GNSS applications in transportation, energy, power, finance, telecommunication, disaster reduction and relief, and so on, to realize the BDS objective of serving the world and benefiting mankind.

BDS will fully exploit the unique advantages of navigation, communication, and augmentation integration, enhance its short message service (SMS), and providing faster positioning and timing capabilities. BDS will also effectively integrate satellite- and ground-based augmentation systems, and insist on implementations of compatibility and interoperability among multi-GNSS, to enable its organic integration with mobile communication, LBS, and the Internet, and provide better quality, more reliable and efficient services to eco-social development, public security, and individual users.

Chengqi Ran is the director general of the China Satellite Navigation Office and press spokesman of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. He graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master’s degree in industrial engineering, and previously was director of the General Technology Department in the China Satellite Navigation Project Center.

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