China sent a new Beidou navigation satellite into orbit on a Long March-3A rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in the southwestern Sichuan Province, at 4:58 a.m. Tuesday.
The satellite is the 32nd of the Beidou navigation system, and one of the Beidou-2 family, which is the second generation of the system.
The launch was the 280th mission of the Long March rocket series.
China started to construct the third-generation of Beidou system in 2017, and eight Beidou-3 satellites are now in space.
“The launch of a backup Beidou-2 satellite will ensure the system’s continuous and stable operation,” said Yang Hui, chief designer of the Beidou-2 series.
Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, Beidou aims to rival the U.S. GPS system, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo as a global satellite navigation system. The project was formally launched in 1994. It began serving China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.