BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- China's homegrown Beidou Navigation Satellite System began providing initial positioning, navigation and timing operational services to China and its surrounding areas from Tuesday, a spokesman for the system said.
Six more satellites will be launched in 2012 to further improve the Beidou system and expand its service area to cover most parts of the Asia-Pacific region, spokesman Ran Chengqi, who is also director of the management office of the China Satellite Navigation System, told a press conference.
China began to build the Beidou system in 2000 with a goal of breaking its dependence on the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and creating its own global positioning system by 2020.
So far, China has launched 10 satellites for the Beidou system, with the tenth being lifted into orbit earlier this month.
The Beidou system is compatible and interoperable with the world's other major global navigation satellite systems,including the U.S. GPS system, the EU's Galileo Positioning System and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), according to Ran.
APPLICATION OF BEIDOU
"We have been promoting the use of the Beidou navigation system in various economic and social sectors since 2000," Ran said.
The system has been widely used in transportation, marine fisheries, hydrological monitoring, weather forecasting, and disaster mitigation, according to the official Report on the Development of Beidou Navigation Satellite System.
The report states that the system played an important role in the south China sleet-snow disaster in early 2008, rescue efforts following the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The recent examples include the Ministry of Transport developing a terminal to use Beidou navigation in its monitoring of shuttle buses, tourist chartered buses and vehicles for dangerous goods, Ran said.
Also, the southern Guangdong Province has used Beidou to monitor the use of government vehicles to prevent private use.
Ran encourages enterprises at home and abroad to join the research and development of application terminals compatible with Beidou, saying a beta version of the system's Interface Control Document (ICD) could be accessed online starting Tuesday.
Ran said that during field research in Guangdong last week, he found a number of electronic enterprises engaged in the research and development of Beidou terminals.
"I've seen their terminals in trial runs, and all of them performed quite stably."
China's satellite navigation market has swelled from a 4-billion-yuan market (633 million U.S.dollars) in 2003 to 50 billion yuan by May 2011.