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Directions 2016: A new stage for the development of BeiDou

December 16, 2015  - By
Shuren Guo, deputy director of China Satellite Navigation Project Center.

Shuren Guo, deputy director of China Satellite Navigation Project Center.

By Shuren Guo

In line with its three-step development plan, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) will constitute a complete space constellation by around 2020, when it will be comprised of five geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites and 30 non-GEO satellites, providing services for global users. The year 2015 is of particular significance for the BDS establishment, which has witnessed stable operation of regional services and formal deployment of new-generation satellites. These satellites possess higher performance and better compatibility and interoperability with other navigation satellite systems.

In March 2015, the first new-generation BDS satellite, or 17th BDS satellite overall, was launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, and kicked off the deployment of the BDS global constellation. Launched and directly inserted into an inclined geo-synchronous orbit (IGSO) by a Long March launch vehicle with a newly designed upper stage, the satellite is equipped with a new bus system, as well as a payload system carrying inter-satellite links and new navigation signals.

In July 2015, two mid-Earth orbit (MEO) BDS satellites, the 18th and 19th overall, were launched into their scheduled orbits precisely with one single launch vehicle. More new types of payloads are on board, and the satellite performance is dramatically improved. After the in-orbit-delivery, these two satellites are able to interconnect with other existing BDS satellites, and jointly carry out the experiment and verification of the global network deployment process.

In September 2015, another BDS satellite was successfully launched into IGSO, and became the 20th of the BDS space constellation. Different from pervious launches, this satellite reached its designed orbit by using its built-in autonomous orbit maneuver mechanism. For the first time, the satellite also carries a Chinese-made hydrogen atomic clock, which provides enhanced time and frequency reference capacities.

Currently, these last four launched satellites are in normal working mode. The ongoing in-orbit tests show that these satellites satisfy the desired requirements. At present, tests and validations for the new navigation signal system, inter-satellite links, and the new atomic clock are being conducted. Once the tests and validations are completed, these satellites will be included in the network, and start to provide services for global users.

In 2016, BDS will keep improving its service performance. Three BDS satellites will be launched to boost up the deployment of global constellation. The construction of the BDS augmentation systems will be accelerated. Meanwhile, international cooperation activities will be further promoted, and the application development process will be attached with much importance, to broaden the fields and domains of BDS/GNSS applications.

“To serve the world and benefit Mankind” is not only the purpose of BDS, but also its commitment to the world. On the basis of maintaining stable services, BDS will make all efforts to enhance the performance, to speed up the deployment of global constellation, and to provide better services for global users.


Shuren Guo is the deputy director of China Satellite Navigation Project Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in electromagnetic theory and microwave engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University, and his master’s in electronics and communication engineering from Beihang University. As a researcher, he has long been engaged in the design, research and development of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.

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1 Comment on "Directions 2016: A new stage for the development of BeiDou"

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  1. The_Observer says:

    Finally the Beidou satellites get their own Chinese atomic clocks. It took the Chinese about a decade after the Europeans ad Americans told the Swiss atomic clock manufacturers Spectretime and T4Science to limit the number of sales to a few second rate atomic clocks instead of their more accurate models. The installation of China’s own atomic clocks should help the accuracy and positional determination of the Chinese satellites tremendously.