BDS: Weav­ing a Global Nav­i­ga­tion Net­work

An­cient hu­mans used the seven stars of the Big Dip­per (called “Bei­dou” in Chinese) to tell di­rec­tions. To­day, China’s home­grown Bei­dou Nav­i­ga­tion Satel­lite Sys­tem (BDS) has be­come the new guide. From the Bei­dou stars to the BDS, hu­mans never cease pur­suin

China Pictorial (English) - - CONTENTS - Text by Zhang Xue

When China’s home­grown satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, named af­ter “Bei­dou,” be­gan op­er­a­tion in 2003, China be­came the third coun­try to op­er­ate a self-de­vel­oped satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, fol­low­ing the United States and Rus­sia.

The third phase of the BDS, known as Bei­dou-3, be­gan con­struc­tion in 2017 and will be ready to serve the whole globe by 2020.

With the BDS ex­pand­ing from a do­mes­tic nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem to a global net­work, China is mak­ing a cru­cial break­through in tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion in the new era.

Catch­ing Up

Com­pared to the other three global nav­i­ga­tion satel­lite sys­tems, the United States’ GPS, Rus­sia’s GLONASS and the Eu­ro­pean Union’s Galileo, China’s BDS is the newest on the scene.

The BDS project was first launched in the 1980s with an aim to ful­fill the Chinese dream of de­vel­op­ing its own satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. How­ever, not un­til 1994 did China start work­ing on the Bei­dou Satel­lite Nav­i­ga­tion Ex­per­i­men­tal Sys­tem, known as Bei­dou-1. In late 20th cen­tury, China ex­plored its own path and made plans to de­velop Bei­dou-1, 2 and 3 con­sec­u­tively.

Three po­si­tion­ing satel­lites con­sti­tuted the Bei­dou-1 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, two of which were launched in 2000 and the other in 2003. With only three satel­lites, the sys­tem man­aged to pro­vide re­gional ser­vice. The suc­cess in the for­ma­tion of the Bei­dou-1 net­work made China the third coun­try to own a home­grown satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and marked the dawn of the BDS ser­vice era.

China had ac­cel­er­ated de­vel­op­ment of the Bei­dou-2 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem since 2007 and com­pleted net­work­ing on its 16 satel­lites in De­cem­ber 2012. The Bei­dou-2 sys­tem be­gan op­er­a­tion with ex­panded ser­vice to the Asia-pa­cific re­gion, pro­vid­ing nav­i­ga­tion, po­si­tion­ing and time ser­vices.

In Novem­ber 2017, China launched two satel­lites for the Bei­dou-3 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem from the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in the south­west­ern prov­ince of Sichuan. The Bei­dou-3 era has al­most ar­rived.

A Long March 3B/YZ-1 rocket launched Bei­dou satel­lites 28 and 29 into space on Fe­bru­ary 12, 2018. This year will bring fre­quent launches with 18 Bei­dou-3 satel­lites sched­uled to go into space by the end of 2018. The global net­work of the Bei­dou-3 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem with

30 satel­lites will take shape with global coverage by the end of 2020.

The Bei­dou-3 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, in­her­it­ing ad­van­tages of pre­vi­ous Bei­dou sys­tems, will pro­vide more pre­cise lo­ca­tion than the Bei­dou-2 by 100-200 per­cent. China aims to pro­vide more ef­fi­cient and accurate mea­sure­ment of time and space.

Serv­ing Civil­ians

As op­posed to mil­i­tary use, the BDS is more ap­pli­ca­ble to civil­ian ser­vice. The sys­tem has been widely em­ployed in pub­lic se­cu­rity, trans­porta­tion, fish­ery, power in­dus­try, forestry, dis­as­ter re­lief and more. It brought dras­tic changes to the con­struc­tion of smart cities and so­cial gov­er­nance, catch­ing eyes world­wide.

The BDS has formed an in­te­gral in­dus­trial sys­tem that com­bines ba­sic prod­ucts, ap­pli­ca­tion ter­mi­nals and op­er­a­tion ser­vice, deeply in­te­grat­ing with var­i­ous eco­nomic sec­tors.

At the fifth an­niver­sary of the be­gin­ning of ser­vice of the Bei­dou-2 nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem last De­cem­ber, China’s State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice held a press con­fer­ence to re­port on its achieve­ments.

Ran Chengqi, di­rec­tor of China’s Satel­lite Nav­i­ga­tion Sys­tem Man­age­ment Of­fice and spokesper­son for the BDS, said that the BDS in­te­grates with the in­ter­net, cloud com­put­ing and big data to build a cloud ser­vice plat­form that pro­vides highly pre­cise in­for­ma­tion on time and space. He added that the aux­il­iary Bei­dou satel­lite po­si­tion­ing sys­tem cov­ers more than 200 coun­tries and re­gions with over 100 mil­lion users and over 200 mil­lion uses daily.

Ac­cord­ing to China’s Min­istry of Trans­port, the BDS formed the world’s largest au­to­mo­bile po­si­tion­ing net­work in China in 2016, with 4.8 mil­lion trans­port ve­hi­cles equipped with the BDS hit­ting road. Its data shows that the sys­tem saved one-third of travel time and re­duced se­vere ac­ci­dents by half. More than 40,000 fish­ing boats have been equipped with the sys­tem. It is es­ti­mated that the BDS has saved more than 10,000 fish­ers since 2003. With the BDS, the time it takes to re­port se­vere dis­as­ters to au­thor­i­ties dropped to less than an hour, and the ef­fi­ciency of aid and emer­gency re­sponse dou­bled. The BDSbased ser­vice has ex­panded to ar­eas like pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture, mon­i­tor­ing build­ing dan­gers and un­manned driv­ing.

To­day, the BDS is be­com­ing a must-have for mo­bile phones in China. Shared bikes use the sys­tem to re­al­ize pre­cise man­age­ment and more de­vices equipped with the BDS such as watches, sport­ing wrist­bands and stu­dent cards are in­cor­po­rat­ing the in­vis­i­ble sys­tem into ev­ery­day life.

Open Arms

De­vel­op­ers of the BDS built the sys­tem for the world as well as for China, so it should be com­pat­i­ble with other satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems and ad­vance to­gether with them.

The BDS is in­te­grat­ing glob­ally with in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, ev­i­denced by the es­tab­lish­ment of the Project Com­mit­tee on China-rus­sia GNSS Co­op­er­a­tion as well as China-u.s. and Chi­naEU joint work­ing groups on satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. China has contributed to win-win co­op­er­a­tion be­tween mul­ti­ple nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems by jointly build­ing a plat­form to mon­i­tor satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with Rus­sia and sign­ing joint state­ments on com­pat­i­bil­ity and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems with both Rus­sia and the United States.

“The BDS has be­come the third satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem rec­og­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion,” re­vealed Ran. “It is also the core con­stel­la­tion for satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion rec­og­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The sys­tem has gained in­ter­na­tional re­sources to sup­port its satel­lite-based aug­mented ser­vice and pro­vides free search and res­cu­ing ser­vices around the whole world. Also, the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of the third and fourth gen­er­a­tions of Bds-based po­si­tion­ing tech­nol­ogy for mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion have al­ready been pub­lished.”

Early in De­cem­ber 2017, China and the United States signed a joint state­ment on civil sig­nal com­pat­i­bil­ity and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween BDS and GPS. The two sys­tems will re­al­ize in­ter­op­er­a­tion in civil­ian sig­nals. Af­ter the two nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems link with each other, one ter­mi­nal can re­ceive sig­nals from both, largely im­prov­ing the sta­bil­ity and ac­cu­racy of po­si­tion­ing.

The BDS has been rec­og­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Third-gen­er­a­tion Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stan­dard Part­ner­ship Project. It cov­ers nearly three bil­lion peo­ple in more than 50 coun­tries and re­gions and has be­come a new call­ing card to in­spire peo­ple to learn about China.

Tech­ni­cians pre­pare for the launch of a Bei­dou-3 satel­lite. VCG

June 5, 2016: A model of the BDS is show­cased at an ex­hi­bi­tion of China’s tech­no­log­i­cal achieve­ments dur­ing the 12th Five-year Plan pe­riod (2011-2015). VCG

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