China on Monday said it had successfully launched two satellites into space for its Beidou global navigation and positioning network.

The two satellites were launched at 4.50 am on Monday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest Sichuan province, carried on a Long March-3B rocket.

It is the first time China has launched two navigation satellites with one rocket, and the two satellites will help to improve the accuracy of the Beidou, or Compass system, the center said in a statement.
China activated the Beidou network in December on a trial basis. Its 11 operational satellites currently provide services over the Asia-Pacific region, including most of China.

The coverage zone stretches from the southern border of Russia to Australia, and from India in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east.

In the past couple of years, China has accelerated its plans to expand its Beidou global positioning network, due to be completed by 2020 with more than thirty satellites in orbit.

The Compass Navigation Satellite System (CNSS) is China’s second-generation satellite navigation system and was approved by the Chinese government in 2004. It is capable of providing continuous, real-time passive 3D geo-spatial positioning and speed measurement.


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