China Launches Satellite for Positioning System

China launched a satellite marking a new phase of deployment for its global positioning network aimed at ending reliance on similar foreign systems early Wednesday morning.

Beidou II, the first "network deployment" satellite in a positioning system called Compass, blasted off from mountainous Sichuan province in the country's west, according to the China National Space Administration's Web site.

The satellite will be able to provide positioning, speed measurement and time services to China and surrounding areas, the statement said.

Plans have the system offering global coverage from over 30 satellites by 2015, which will require about 10 satellite launches this and next year, a project engineer told state media earlier this year.

China's positioning system, the equivalent of Galileo in Europe or GPS (Global Positioning System) in the U.S., will compete for commercial contracts but is also meant to prevent military reliance on foreign communications systems.

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