China’s policy of ending its reliance on US GPS satellites seems to be gathering momentum after the People’s Republic announced the start of trial operations of its homegrown Beidou system.
According to Reuters, China was a little worried about relying on the US to tell it where it was. After all, most Americans think that New Zealand is part of Canada and like to elect presidents who frequently confuse their bottoms with their elbows. So, in 2000, China sent an experimental pair of positioning satellites of its own into orbit.
Ran Chengqi, spokesman for the new system, said in a press conference that Beidou, which means “Big Dipper,” would cover most parts of the Asia Pacific by next year and then the world by 2020.
There are currently 10 satellites in orbit to support Beidou and there will be another six next year, he said. The cunning plan is to have a system of 35 satellites.
While the US and Russia have been making cuts to their space programme, the Chinese appear to be hoping to win the Science Victory in Civ. They want to build a space station and a manned trip to the moon. The nation is also increasing its military use of space with new satellites.