China launched an orbiter into space at 5:44 am on Wednesday, as a part of its indigenous satellite navigation and positioning network known as Beidou, or Compass system, launch center officials said.
The orbiter, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, was boosted by a Long March-3A carrier rocket into a geostationary orbit.
China started to build its satellite navigation system to break its dependence on the US Global Positioning System in 2000.
Between October 2000 and May 2003, the country established a regional satellite navigation system after launching three Beidou geostationary satellites.
The system was known as Beidou-1 and is said to have played an important role in the rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008.
A better functional Beidou-2 regional and global navigation system will be set up, Qi Faren, former chief designer for Shenzhou spaceships, told Xinhua.
From April 2007 to April this year, China launched another eight orbiters to form its Beidou-2 system, which will eventually consist of 35 satellites.