|China successfully launched another satellite into space for its indigenous global navigation and positioning network in this file photo. Photo taken on Oct 25, 2012 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan. (Photo/Xinhua)
By Zhao Huanxin
BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- The world can expect to use China's "reliable" global positioning and navigation services for free by 2020, the director of the country's satellite navigation office said on Friday.
"The Beidou Navigation Satellite System is committed to providing services to the whole world — currently for the Asia-Pacific — for free," said Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.
The office released two documents to specify China's homegrown navigation system's open service performance standard and to facilitate research and development of various terminals for global users.
After deploying 16 satellites since 2000, the country will begin launching newer navigation satellites near the end of 2014, Ran said at a news conference.
In six to eight years, the number of satellites that will be launched is expected to grow to 40 to form a constellation as coverage expands globally, according to a statement from Ran's office.
These satellites, with enhanced functions, will have a lifespan of up to 15 years. The satellites currently in use work for about eight years.
By its completion in about 2020, the global Beidou system is expected to improve the positioning accuracy from the current 10 meters to about 2.5 meters, he said.
"Satellite navigation is an important part of a country's infrastructure, and it's certainly a combined civilian and military infrastructure," Ran said, adding the completion of the Beidou system should contribute to national defense.
With the support of ground-based augmentation networks, the system's positioning precision could be further improved to the level of centimeters rather than meters, he added.