China has further developed an advanced navigation satellite system, called Beidou, which can be used in search and rescue missions.
“China has mastered the core technology of space payload and ground systems for medium earth orbit search and rescue systems. The time is ripe for China to develop its own self-controlled search and rescue system with Beidou,” the Chinese Ministry of Transport announced on Thursday.
The ministry’s spokesman, Wu Chungeng, said Beijing’s next goal was to rapidly expand Beidou to the global level.
“In the next step, we will work with related departments to push forward the related work in order to make Beidou better serve the global search and rescue system as soon as possible,” Wu said.
By 2020, China aims to expand its satellite navigation system globally with a network of 35 satellites.
Currently, Beidou is the world’s fourth navigation satellite system.
The American Global Positioning System (GPS) is the world’s No. 1 navigation satellite system, followed by Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
By establishing its own global navigation system, Beijing aims to cut its reliance on US-based GPS services.
Wu said Beidou would be part of the International Cospas-Sarsat Programme, jointly developed by the United States, Canada, and the former Soviet Union.
The International Cospas-Sarsat Programme cooperates with UN-affiliated agencies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to ensure the compatibility of the Cospas-Sarsat distress alerting services with international needs and standards.
The Programme is best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships, and hikers in distress.