By Xinhua writer Wang Cong
BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) -- China will be able to
provide free global navigation and positioning services by 2020 with its own
constellation of satellites named "Compass," an engineering expert said here
Compass would cover all of China and its adjacent
regions by the end of 2010 or early 2011, and it would expand into a global
network by 2020, Cao Chong, chief engineer of the China Electronics Technology
Group Corp., told Xinhua.
Cao's statement contradicted earlier reports claiming
that China would complete the system before 2015.
Compass could provide civilian clients with
positioning accuracy within 10 meters without charge, compared with the 5m to 6m
offered by the U.S.-developed Global Positioning System (GPS), Cao said.
However, "the Compass system has its own advantages,"
The system would also be used to transmit text
messages in remote or maritime areas largely beyond the reach of conventional
satellites and provide "authorized services" for military purposes, Cao said.
On Wednesday, China launched its second Compass
navigation satellite, about two years after the first Compass module went into
Cao said China would launch another 10 satellites
within the next two years. The 12-satellite system could cover China and
neighboring regions for the first phase of the Compass program.
But it would take far more time to carry out the
second phase, under which Compass would expand into a global network, he said.
That would require at least 30 satellites.
A military official, who would only give her surname
as Tang, said the Compass system would eventually include 35 satellites.
"The European Union's Galileo Positioning System cost
more than3 billion Euros," Cao said. That amount is equivalent to 3.9 billion
In light of that figure, "I think the Compass system
might cost China several dozen billion yuan," Cao added. "The first phase alone
could cost more than 10 billion yuan," Cao said.
China is one of a few countries able to develop a
navigation satellite system. By 2007, China had successfully put four
experimental navigation satellites into orbit, forming the Beidou ("Big Dipper")
system, which can provide positioning accuracy within 20m.
The Beidou-based Compass system is expected to rival
the U.S.-developed GPS, the EU's GPS and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite
System, but Cao added: "It is hard to say which one is better for