China: Expansion of Beidou satellite navigation system until 2020

Satellite image of Beijing, China
Beijing, China from the space
Credits: NASA

China is planning to expand its homegrown Beidou navigation system by 2020 and make it accurate to within centimeters. Up until now the Chinese system has 16 satellites and it is expected to grow to 30 by 2020.

Currently the system reaches an error margin as low as 5 meters. With the improvements China hopes to be able to compete with the US GPS. The system serves the Asia-Pacific region a year now and hopes to expand coverage to other Asian countries.

Beidou is the only satellite navigation system that offers telecommunication services. That means that, apart from giving users location and time information, Beidou can also send users' information to other people and communicate with users via text messages.