In a recent post
we highlighted the Russian government’s stated intention to revitalize its version of GPS called Glonass. The Europeans are also working on a GPS-type satellite system, called Galileo
. We shouldn’t leave out the Chinese, who in February of this year launched a navigation satellite aboard a Long March 3A rocket (photo at left) as part of a projected 30-satellite system called “Beidou,” which is known in English as “Compass.” This spacecraft joins three previous Beidou satellites launched between 2000 and 2003.
The Chinese system will reportedly provide 10-meter accuracy. Interestingly, the Chinese are also part of the Europeans’ Galileo consortium. And in one report by the London-based newspaper Financial Times, a Chinese spokesman was very up front about why the Chinese are involved in Galileo. He said they were committed to Galileo to “improve political ties, learn from European know-how and provide greater competition.”
While the Chinese may wish to have their own GPS-type system, they have a long way to go and thr path can be a difficult one. Witness the current situation with Galileo. The projected operational date of the system, which will reportedly cost $4 billion, has been pushed back to 2011 due to technical problems and political wrangling among the member states of the consortium.