CNSS (Compass/BeiDou Navigation Satellite System)
CNSS (Compass/BeiDou Navigation Satellite System) / BDS (BeiDou Navigation System)
In the first decade of the 21st century, China is in the process of developing its own navigation satellite constellation known as CNSS (Compass Navigation Satellite System), or BeiDou-2 in its Chinese name. BeiDou is the Chinese name of the Big Dipper constellation. The BeiDou-2 system will be based on its current regional Compass Satellite Navigation Experimental System (BeiDou-1). 1)
Although the program was initiated by China’s military forces, China established an agency, namely CSNPC (China Satellite Navigation Project Center) in the timeframe 2006/7, to take charge of the research, building, and management of CNSS.
The BeiDou-2 program was officially started in 2005 and announced by China in October 2006. China gave also to a proper name to the rest of the world of its BeiDou-2 system, namely CNSS (Compass Navigation Satellite System) - BeiDou literally means “Compass”. The new system will be a constellation of 35 satellites, which include 5 geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites and 30 medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites, that will offer complete coverage of the globe.
China has joined the UN-supported ICG (International Committee on GNSS) and has taken part in the ICG’s Providers Forum (founded in Sept. 2007, Bangalore, India). The members of the Forum and their current and future systems include: China (CNSS), EU (Galileo, EGNOS), India (IRNSS, GAGAN), Japan (QZSS, MSAS), Russia (GLONASS), and USA (GPS, WAAS). The goal of the Providers Forum is to foster compatibility of the services/signals and interoperability among the various navigation systems for a better service to the user community. 2) 3)
The Chinese plans call for a deployment of the full constellation by 2012. A more realistic timeframe for global service provision is probably 2015 (Ref. 12). China plans call also for a long-term and sustained navigation service and system performance for the global user community once the system is in full operation. 4) 5)
In 2009, three BeiDou-2 spacecraft are planned to be launched. More than 10 satellites will be put into service within the next two years by Long-March launchers. Around 2011, the system will be capable to offer services on a regional scale.
Background: The BeiDou program began in 1983 with a proposal by Chen Fangyun to develop a Twinsat regional navigation system using two geostationary satellites. The concept was proven in 1989 in a test using two in-orbit DFH-2/2A communications satellites. This test showed that the precision of the Twinsat system would be comparable to the American GPS (Global Positioning System). In 1993, the BeiDou program was officially started. Experimental launch of the first two indigenous BeiDou navigation satellites was in 2000. The final BeiDou constellation was to consist of four geosynchronous satellites, two operational and two backups. 6)
• In Sept. 2003, the EU (Europen Union) and China agreed to cooperate to develop the EU Galileo Satellite System. The United States reacted with strong skepticism since Washington was against the sharing of sensitive dual-use technology (of civilian and military applications) with China. 7)
• In the timeframe 2006/7, the BeiDou-2 program of China plans to place a portion of the Compass/BeiDou signals on the same frequency planned for Galileo’s PRS (Public Regulated Service).
It’s much the same situation as arose a few years ago when Europe originally proposed to overlay its L1 open service signals on the new GPS military (M-code) signal. That potential conflict was eventually resolved in the course of negotiating the 2004 Galileo/GPS cooperation agreement between the United States and the European Union. 8)
• In March 2009, China and Europe have made no concrete progress in negotiating how to harmonize their planned satellite navigation systems. Each side is trying to protect its abilities in jam the other's military frequencies in a time of conflict without jamming its own. Europe calls its encrypted and protected Galileo signals PRS (Public Regulated Service) and the military is considered to be the largest future market for it. China refers to its protected code as an “Authorized Service” to be used in “complex situations.” 9)
• According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and CSNO (China Satellite Navigation Office) , the development of the Chinese global navigation system will be carried out in three phases (Ref. 60): 10)
1) Phase-I is BeiDou Navigation Satellite Demonstration System, which has been established in the period 2000-2003. The experimental BeiDou navigation system consisted of 3 satellites.
2) Phase-II is the regional BeiDou navigation satellite system covering China and neighboring regions by 2012. By 2014, the system will be ready to initially offer high-precision positioning and navigation services to the Asia-Pacific region.
3) Phase-III is the BeiDou navigation satellite system to be established completely and provide global service by 2020.
BeiDou-1 regional satellite navigation system
The first generation regional demonstration system, referred to as BeiDou-1, is made up of 4 spacecraft, is experimental and has limited coverage and application. Unlike the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo systems, which use MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites, BeiDou-1 uses satellites in GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit). This means that the system does not require a large constellation of satellites, but it also limits the coverage to areas on Earth where the satellites are visible. The area that can be serviced is from 70ºE to 140ºE, and from 5ºN to 55ºN.
The BeiDou-1 spacecraft was developed on the basis of the DFH-3 satellite bus. It has a size of 2.2 m x 1.72 m x 2.0 m. The pair of solar panels has a span of 18.1 m. The spacecraft launch mass is 2,200 kg which includes 1,100 kg of propellant for its main engine. The design life is about 5 years.
Launch: All BeiDou-1 satellites were launched from the XSLC (Xichang Satellite Launch Center) in the southwestern Sichuan Province of China, using China’s Long March 3A (CZ-3A) launch vehicles.
Table 1: Overview of the BeiDou 1st generation satellites
Figure 1: Illustration of the GEO/IGSO spacecraft (image credit: DFH)
The BeiDou-1 system began to provide experimental navigation and positioning services in late 2001; it became “operational” with the launch of the third spacecraft, BeiDou-1C, in May 2003. The navigation and positioning services became available to civilian users in April 2004. This has made China the third country in the world to have deployed an operational spaceborne navigation and positioning network.
The BeiDou-1 network covers most areas of East Asia region and has both navigation and communication functions. The system will be able to provide navigation and positioning services to users in China and its neighboring countries by 2008. The satellite network comprises three BeiDou-1 satellites (2 operational and 1 backup).
The ground system includes:
• Central control station
• 3 ground tracking stations for orbit determination (at Jamushi, Kashi and Zhanjiang)
• Ground correction stations
• User terminals (receivers/transmitters).
The system provides positioning data of 100 m accuracy. By using ground- and/or spaceborne (the 3rd and 4th satellites) differential methods, the accuracy can be increased to < 20 m. The system capacity is 540,000 users per hour, and serve up to 150 users simultaneously.
BeiDou-1 location measurement scheme:
BeiDou-1 requires two-way transmissions between the user and the central control station via the satellite. Firstly, the central control station sends inquiry signals to the users via two satellites. When the user terminal received the signal from one satellite, it sends responding signal back to both satellites. The central station receives the responding signals sent by the user from two satellites, and calculates the user’s 2D position based on the time difference between the two signals. This position is then compared with the digital territorial map stored in the database to get the 3D position data, which is then sent back to the user via satellites using encrypted communications.
Figure 2: Illustration of the BeiDou-1 measurement scheme (image credit: sinodefence)
Compass/BeiDou-2 global satellite navigation constellation
Compass/BeiDou is the satellite navigation system planned by China. The following basic principles apply: 11)
• Compass/BeiDou will provide high quality open services free of charge from direct users, and its worldwide use is encouraged.
• China will widely and thoroughly communicate with other countries on satellite navigation issues to facilitate the development of GNSS technologies and the industry.
• China will develop and operate Compass/BeiDou system independently.
• Compass/BeiDou can independently provide services for global users and particularly provide high quality services in Asia-Pacific region.
• COMPASS/BeiDou will pursue solutions to realize compatibility and interoperability with other GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems).
• The construction of COMPASS/BeiDou system follows a step-by-step pattern based on technical and economic evolution in China.
• COMPASS/BeiDou will provide long-term continuous services for users, improve system performance and ensure smooth transition during all life cycle.
The new system under development will be a constellation of 35 satellites, which include 5 geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, 3 IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit), and 27 MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites, that will offer complete coverage of the globe. The BeiDou-2 system will allow a ground receiver to calculate its position by measuring the distance between itself and three or more satellites in view, in analogy to the method of signal reception practised by the GPS and GLONASS constellations. 12) 13) 14) 15) 16) 17) 18)
As with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, the system is planned to provide two navigation services: an open service for (commercial) customers and an “authorized” positioning, velocity, and timing communications service. 19) 20) 21) 22)
1) Open service: Free to the global user community. The open service will provide a positioning accuracy of 10 m, a timing accuracy of 20 ns, and a velocity accuracy of 0.2 m/s.
2) Authorized service on a commercial basis: Provision of more reliable PVT (Positioning, Velocity, Timing) information and communications services as well as integrity information.
The communication access scheme of the CNSS signals will be CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).
Table 2: Compass /BeiDou-2 signal characteristics:
Table 3: Signals provided in the two service categories
• Compass/BeiDou coordinate system is referred to as BDC (BeiDou Coordinate ) system. The BDC coincides with CGCS2000 (China Geodetic Coordinate System). 23)
- CGCS2000 is referenced to CTRF2000 (China Terrestrial Reference Frame 2000)
- Global, three-dimensional
- Right-handed, orthogonal
- Frame: ITRF97
- Epoch: 2000.0
• CTRF is aligned to ITRF (International Terrestrial Reference Frame). It coincides with ITRF within a few cm; hence, for most applications the difference between CGCS2000 and ITRF can be neglected.
• Status of CTRF: IGS Stations used in CTRF computation. A total of 47 IGS stations were included in establishing CTRF 2000
Coordinating Compass/BeiDou-2 with other GNSS constellations: Interoperability is one of the most important aspects in the design of the Compass timing system; the time differences of BDT - GPST and BDT - GST (Galileo System Time) are measured in the Compass central control station and will later be broadcast as part of the navigation messages of the GNSS systems. 24)
The CNSS spacecraft series is based on the DFH-3 (DongFangHong 3) satellite bus, with a design life of 8 years (the DFH-3 bus provides a medium-capacity platform and has a communication satellite heritage). The DFH-3 bus is 3-axis stabilized providing the power as well as guidance and control needed for navigation satellite services. The DFH-3 bus is being built by CAST (China Academy of Space Technology) corporation; the Dongfanghong (DFH) Satellite Company of Beijing is part of CAST.
Figure 3: Illustration of the MEO spacecraft (image credit: DFH/CAST)
• The Compass-G is a geostationary navigation satellite developed by CAST based on its DFH-3B platform. The satellite consists of the service module and payload module, and has a designed lifespan of 8 years. The onboard telemetry is unified C-/S-band. The propulsion is a 490 N motor. The Compass-G is launched on a Changzheng 3C rocket carrying a single satellite.
• The Compass-IGSO spacecraft is similar to the geostationary satellite in design, but is deployed in a 55º inclination geosynchronous orbit.
• The Compass-M satellite is deployed into MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) at nominal altitudes of 21,500~24,100 km and an inclination of 55º. An experimental Compass-M1 satellite, based on the DFH-3B bus, was launched in April 2007 to test the onboard payload.
• The operational Compass-M satellite, which is currently (2012) in development, will be based on a dedicated MEO satellite bus. The satellite has a gross (launch) mass of 800 kg, and a payload capability of 280 kg. The satellite is three-axis stabilized and has a power output of 1.5 kW. The satellite can be carried on a liquid-propellant upper stage (satellite dispenser), allowing two or more satellites to be launched onboard a single launch vehicle.
Table 4: Overview of Compass satellite parameters
Figure 4: Illustration of the Compass-GEO spacecraft (image credit: DFH/CAST)
BeiDou-3 satellite design and features
The BeiDou-3 constellation will include 35 satellites which will offer a full range of services by 2020. Five of the 35 satellites will be placed in geostationary orbit (GEO), three will be placed in inclined geostationary orbit (IGSO), and the remaining 27 in the medium Earth orbit (MEO). 27) 28)
BDS-3 satellites are fitted with high-performance B1C and B2a systems, which are interoperable with the other existing global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). It also provides SBAS (Satellite-Based Augmentation System) and SAR (Search and Rescue) services.
BeiDou-3 utilizes hydrogen atomic clock with the stability of E-15 and rubidium clock with E-14 stability. It offers more frequency stability than its predecessor BDS-2.
BDS-3 satellites feature intersatellite links, which help with time synchronization and enhance SAR and MCS (Message Communication Services), including regional MCS (RMCS) and global short MCS (GSMCS).
The system also supports precision point positioning with decimeter-level motion positioning and centimeter level positioning, satellite-based augmentation, global SAR, and space environment exploration.
The Geostationary Beidou-3G satellites are based on the DFH-3B satellite bus provided by CAST (China Academy of Space Technology) using heritage components from the flight-proven DFH-3 bus and expanding its capabilities by supporting more advanced payloads and reducing the overall weight of the platform. The DFH-3B bus is hexahedral in shape measuring 2.2 x 2.0 x 3.1 m in size with a mass of 3,800+ kg.
The Beidou satellites will have a mass around 4,600 kg featuring two three-segment solar arrays that generate 6,800 W of electrical power stored in batteries and distributed to the various systems and the payload. The satellite uses state of the art navigation systems including star and Earth sensors & attitude actuators providing excellent stabilization on all three axes. Stationkeeping accuracy in Geostationary Orbit is ±0.05º.
The RDSS (Radio Determination Satellite Service) payload of the Beidou-3G satellites consists of a high-power S-band transponder, a low-noise L-band amplifier and frequency generator, a phased array L-band antenna, an L-/S-band dish antenna and a C-band antenna. RDSS uses the original position retrieval including the central ground station to provide compatibility of the new system with existing Beidou-1 terminals. The RNSS (Radio Navigation Satellite Service) payload uses ultra stable timing signals delivered by an atomic clock to generate L-band signals that are transmitted through an antenna array.
RNSS also includes an L-band uplink receiver and laser reflector for orbit determination. This payload works on the same principle as GPS and Galileo using similar frequency bands.
BeiDou-3 service and performance
The BDS-3 global service system offers horizontal/vertical positioning accuracy of 10 m with velocity and time accuracies of 0.2 m/s and 20 ns, respectively. It offers a global service availability of more than 95%. In the Asia-Pacific region, the positioning accuracies are 5 m horizontal and 5 m vertical.
China introduced 28 nm domestic BDS chips, which help in various applications such as transportation, marine fishery, and marine navigation. The BDS also uses a high-precision deformation monitoring system to ensure safe operations of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The BDS serves cars via intelligent vehicle terminals.
Cambodia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Algeria, and Uganda, as well as other African and Belt and Road Corridor (BRC) countries are the beneficiaries of the BDS.
Table 5: BDS-3 MEO satellites manufactured by SECM 29)
CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)
BeiDou-3S stands for five BeiDou-3 test satellites launched in 2015/2016. They transmit legacy B1 signals similar to the BeiDou-2 satellites as well as modernized signals in the L1, E5, and B3 band.
The M1S/M2S satellites are equipped with an additional fold-out phased array antenna. However, it is unknown which navigation signals are transmitted by this antenna. Manufacturer satellite antenna phase center offsets as well as SLR retroreflector offsets for C101 - C104 are published in [30)].
Table 6: Parameters of BeiDou-3S satellites
Launch: So far, all BeiDou/Compass satellites have been launched from XSLC (Xichang Satellite Launch Center) in the southwestern Sichuan Province of China.
The Beidou-3M/G/I satellites represent the orbital segment of the third phase of the Chinese Beidou navigation system which uses satellites in MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and GEO (Geosynchronous Orbit) and is also known as the CNSS (Compass Navigation Satellite System).
• November 19, 2018: In what is an ongoing parade of significant launches, China has just sent two new satellites of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) into space via a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province at 2:07 a.m. CST on November 19. This corresponds to 18:07 UTC on Nov. 18. 36)
- The satellites entered MEO more than three hours later and will work with the 17 other BDS-3 satellites that are already on orbit. These also happen to be the 42nd and 43rd satellites of the BDS satellite family.
- With this successful launch (of BeiDou-3 M17 and M18), the basic BDS constellation deployment is now complete. China plans to provide navigation services with the BDS-3 to the Belt and Road partner countries by the close of this year, marking a key step toward a global navigation service.
• November 7, 2017: New, ultra-accurate rubidium atomic clocks on board two BeiDou-3 satellites launched into space on Nov. 5, 2017, have greatly improved the accuracy of the system.
- The two satellites are equipped with more reliable rubidium atomic timekeepers than those in previous BeiDou satellites. According to Yang Changfeng, chief designer of the satellite system, their stability was as high as 10-14. "It means only one second of deviation in 3 million years," he said.
- "The stability of the new-generation clocks has been improved by 10 times, compared with those carried by BeiDou-2 satellites," said Qu Yongsheng from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation fifth research institute, Xi'an branch, developer of the clocks. This new technology has raised the positioning accuracy of the BeiDou-3 to 2.5 - 5 meters from 10 meters in the past.
• On March 30, 2015 (13:52:30 UTC), CNSA launched a new-generation (BeiDou-3) satellite into space, called BDS I-S, for its indigenous global navigation and positioning network on a Long March 3C/YZ-1 vehicle from the XSLC ( Xichang Satellite Launch Center) LA-2, utilizing the debut use of the new Expedition-1 (Yuanzheng-1) upper stage. It is the 17th satellite for the BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System). The launch marked the beginning of expanding the regional BDS to global coverage. 37)
- The BDS I-S satellite will be tasked with testing a new type of navigation signaling and inter-satellite links, providing a basis to start building the global network, according to the center.
- The BeiDou Phase III system includes the migration of its civil BeiDou 1 or B1 signal from 1561.098 MHz to a frequency centered at 1575.42 MHz – the same as the GPS L1 and Galileo E1 civil signals – and its transformation from a quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulation to a multiplexed binary offset carrier (MBOC) modulation similar to the future GPS L1C and Galileo’s E1. 38)
- The new satellite was developed by the Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites, a non-profit organization established by CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the Shanghai Municipal Government.
Figure 5: Photo of one deployed Compass solar panel (image credit: DFH/CAST)
Orbital planes of the CNSS constellation:
• The 27 MEO satellites will be deployed into 3 orbital planes with an inclination of 55.5º. The nominal orbital altitude is 21,500 -24100 km.
• Five GEO satellites at the equatorial longitudes of: 58.75ºE, 80ºE, 110.5ºE, 140ºE and 160ºE (regional system).
• Three IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit) satellites.
Figure 6: Illustration of the future Compass/BeiDou-2 constellation (image credit: CSNPC)
Compass-M1 is an experimental satellite, the first spacecraft of the BeiDou-2 series (second generation MEO), launched on April 14, 2007 for signal testing and validation and for the frequency filing with the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). The role of Compass-M1 for Compass is similar to the role of GIOVE satellites for Galileo.
Table 8: Overview of current and future GNSS constellation parameters (Ref. 16)
BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System)/BeiDou mission status
• October 11, 2020: Despite being affected by three typhoons and the COVID-19 epidemic, Song Jilin's 20 hectares of rice on the Qixing farm, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, embraced a bumper harvest this year. 39)
- There was a lack of hands during the spring plowing season because of the epidemic, but the unmanned rice transplanters equipped with China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) helped out, Song said.
- On the Qixing farm, a combine harvester guided by the BDS is shuttling between the rice fields. Zhang Jinghui, another major rice planter, said with advanced navigation technology, the harvester can work precisely with an error range of less than 2 cm. It can also work during the night to increase efficiency.
- The application in precision agriculture is an example of how BDS has become a powerful impetus to boosting China's economic and social development and improving people's living conditions.
- Extensively applied in various aspects of the national economy and people's lives, BDS currently provides full-scale services in sectors ranging from transportation, public security, disaster relief, and mitigation to agriculture, forestry, and city management.
- When China was building the two makeshift hospitals of Huoshenshan and Leishenshan in Wuhan, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, equipment based on BDS provided high-precision positioning services and accelerated the construction.
- BDS has played an indispensable part in helping fishermen cut losses and evade the strong winds and waves during typhoon season in Fujian Province.
- BDS was used for high-precision railway construction and management. BDS-based modules were installed on the trains traveling along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to track accurate three-dimensional coordinates and running speed. Based on this information, the control center can optimize route planning, shorten train departure intervals and improve train operation efficiency and safety.
- During the construction of the Beijing-Xiong'an intercity railway, a key project for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, BDS has been applied to guide the track-laying work to make the railway safer and more comfortable.
- The BDS's distinctive short message function has facilitated the power data collection in remote areas with no communication signal coverage. In 2008, when a magnitude-8 earthquake struck Wenchuan in southwest China's Sichuan Province, severely damaging ground communication facilities, rescuers used the short message function of BDS to report the locations of the quake-hit areas.
- Over the past 10 years, the total output value of China's satellite navigation and location service industry has increased by more than 20 percent annually. The output value reached 345 billion yuan (about 49.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019 and was expected to exceed 400 billion yuan in 2020.
- The integration of BDS with emerging technologies, including 5G, mobile communications, and big data will be further promoted to create new business models and growth points, said BDS Spokesperson Ran Chengqi.
- BDS not only belongs to China but to the whole world. By the end of 2019, China had exported its BDS-based products to more than 120 countries and regions. BDS has entered a new era of global service, benefiting precision farming, digital development, and smart port construction in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), South Asia, Eastern Europe, West Asia, and Africa.
- The application of BDS has no boundaries, and more efforts will be made to develop new satellite navigation technologies to provide better navigation, positioning, and timing services for humankind, said Xie Jun, chief designer of the BDS-3 satellite system.
• August 7, 2020: Designers of China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System will keep upgrading software on BeiDou satellites to improve their capabilities and maintain technological advantages, according to a key figure in this program. 40)
- Lin Baojun, a chief designer of BeiDou's third-generation satellite, said at a news conference in Beijing on Monday that once a satellite is launched, it is virtually impossible for its hardware to be modified, so designers and engineers need to optimize its operating system and inject new functions into the spacecraft on a regular basis.
- "This is like what we do with our mobile phones-we download a new app to give the phone more functions," said Lin, a designer from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Innovation Academy for Microsatellites. "With this method, our satellites will be able to receive regular improvements in orbit."
- BeiDou is China's largest space-based system and one of four global navigation networks, along with the United States' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo.
- On Friday, President Xi Jinping announced that BeiDou had been completed and had started providing full-scale global services.
- Designers developed and gave the most advanced technologies possible to BeiDou satellites at the research and development stage in hopes that they would be capable of handling new tasks as long as possible, according to Lin.
- Usually, a satellite will employ no more than 30 percent of such new technologies to guarantee low technical risks, but in some BeiDou satellites, as much as 70 percent of their technologies were new to such spacecraft.
- Innovation has also been widely applied to BeiDou, Lin said, adding that the phased array inter-satellite link is a good example of researchers' creativity as they invented the technology to solve major difficulties in tracking and controlling BeiDou satellites.
- Xie Jun, another chief designer from the China Academy of Space Technology, said that to ensure the nonstop, smooth operation of BeiDou, engineers devised a number of emergency plans and put major parts through rigorous tests before mounting them on satellites. They also established a technical support team to help ground controllers monitor and analyze BeiDou satellites' operational conditions, he added.
- Pang Zhihao, a renowned writer about space technology, said that in-orbit upgrades and maintenance are important to satellites as they can extensively boost the capabilities of spacecraft and prolong their life span.
- In late June, the final satellite to complete BeiDou's third-generation network was launched by a Long March 3B carrier rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province and was placed into a geostationary orbit about 36,000 kilometers above Earth.
- After in-orbit tests over the past month, the satellite, the 30th in the third-generation series, has recently started its formal operations.
- Since 2000, a total of 59 BeiDou satellites, including the first four experimental models, have been launched from Xichang on 44 Long March 3-series rockets, with some of them having retired. Most of currently operational BeiDou satellites are of the third-generation series.
• July 30, 2020: The 55th and last satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) has commenced operation in the network after completing in-orbit tests and network access evaluations, according to a statement from China's Satellite Navigation System Management Office Wednesday. 41)
- Launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on June 23, the satellite is a geostationary earth orbit satellite of the BDS 3 system, which has been offering basic navigation services to countries and regions along the Belt and Road, as well as the world, since December 2018.
- According to the office, the satellite will offer users positioning, navigation and timing services. It was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology.
- Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, BeiDou is one of the four space-based navigation networks operating globally, along with the US GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo networks.
• July 2, 2020: The newly-launched last satellite of China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) successfully entered the long-term operation mode on July 1, announced the Xi'an Satellite Control Center. 42)
- It marked that all 30 satellites of the BDS-3 system have been operating in the long-term mode, a major step forward for BDS to provide full services to the world, said the center.
- The last satellite of the BDS was launched on June 23, 2020. After flying for nearly eight days, it successfully entered the final orbit, which is 36,000 km above Earth, on June 30.
- The center is now conducting the final tests before the satellite could be connected with the BDS-3 system and provide services.
- The BDS-3 system started to offer basic navigation services to countries and regions along the Belt and Road as well as the world in December 2018.
• June 9, 2020: The Xi'an Satellite Control Center's tests have shown links among the satellites of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) are stable to ensure that the constellation can be completed as scheduled. 43)
- The tests showed that the inter-satellite links meet the demands of the construction of the global system, said Yuan Yong, a senior engineer from the control center.
- He said that the tests, lasting for more than two years, covered 29 satellites of the BDS-3 system.
- Since the ground stations in China cannot continuously track and control all the BDS satellites, the inter-satellite links help establish communication among them. Instructions sent by the control center to one satellite in the constellation is transmitted to all.
- China began to develop its navigation system, named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, in the 1990s and started serving the Asia-Pacific Region in 2012.
- Currently, all the first generation BDS-1 satellites have ended operations, and a total of 54 BDS-2 and BDS-3 satellites have been sent to space. The BDS-3 system will consist of 30 satellites.
- China aims to launch the last BDS-3 satellite in June to complete the construction of the constellation and provide high-precision and reliable positioning, navigation and timing services around the world.
• February 27, 2020: Four new satellites of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) have recently passed tests in orbit and joined the system to provide positioning, navigation and timing services. 44)
- The four satellites include the 47th, 48th, 52nd and 53rd satellites of the BDS family, according to China's Satellite Navigation System Management Office.
- All of them, operating in medium Earth orbit, were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
- The 47th and 48th BDS satellites were launched on Sept. 23, 2019, and the 52nd and 53rd BDS satellites were launched on Dec. 16, 2019.
• December 29, 2019: China will provide unique services to global users with the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) after its construction is finished in 2020, an official said on 27 December. 45)
- Along with basic positioning, navigation and time services, the BDS will provide six categories of special services that distinguish it from other systems, said BDS spokesperson Ran Chengqi at a press conference.
- The satellite-based augmentation system of the BDS will provide high-precision and high-integrity services to users in civil aviation, maritime, railway and other industries.
- In precise point positioning, the BDS will provide users in China and surrounding areas with decimeter-level dynamic positioning and centimeter-level static positioning, meeting the demand for high-precision service in fields like land surveying and mapping, agriculture and automatic driving.
- Another kind of unique service is regional short message communications. Users can send a message of up to 1,000 Chinese characters and it is expected to be integrated into mobile platforms like smartphones.
- As for global short message communications, China has launched 14 MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites carrying payloads for that purpose.
- For the ground-based augmentation system, China has built more than 2,000 stations, forming a nationwide network providing positioning services at different accuracy levels.
- For international search and rescue, six medium earth orbit satellites will work with other global medium-orbit search and rescue systems to provide more efficient and high-quality services. Trapped people can obtain rescue confirmation info through the services.
- December 27 marked the one-year anniversary of China's BDS-3 system providing global services. China will finish the construction of the BDS-3, with another two satellites to be launched before June 2020.
Figure 7: December 27, 2019 marked the one-year anniversary of China's BDS-3 system providing global services. China will finish the construction of the BDS-3, with another two satellites to be launched before June 2020 (image credit: Xinhua News Agency)
• June 10, 2019: China's BeiDou-3 system, a global geolocation network, is expected to be completed in 2020, with a total of 35 satellites, researchers at a conference on the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) said. 46)
- China has deployed three systems, BDS-1, BDS-2 and BDS-3, to provide accurate positioning and navigation services to the world, said Jin Shuanggen, a researcher at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, at the second China (Nanjing) BeiDou Satellite Navigation Application Expo and Beidou Summit Forum.
- "Traditional satellites navigation service is hardly available in the interior of buildings, underground, underwater and other locations. The BDS system provides better accuracy in these locations," Jin said.
- The BDS system, independently constructed and operated by China, currently has 38 in-orbit satellites including 18 BDS-2 and 20 BDS-3.
- As a space infrastructure of national significance, the BDS provides all-time, all-weather and high-accuracy positioning, navigation and timing services to global users, according to a white paper on the system.
- "BDS will play a large role as it is used in different scenarios including smart city, agriculture and meteorology, autopilot, and intelligent transportation," said Jing Guifei, dean of BeiDou Belt and Road School of Beihang University.
- The three-day exposition displays new trends, theories, technologies and applications of the BeiDou satellite navigation industry.
- More than 400 companies in the fields of drones, unmanned ships, surveying and mapping, and intelligent robots and vehicles participated in the exposition.
• December 11, 2017: As one of the four major GNSS providers, the establishment of BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System) has been steadily developed, following a three-step strategy. By around 2020, BDS will form a nominal space constellation consisting of 30 satellites, including three satellites in GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), three satellites in IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Satellite Orbit) and 24 satellites in MEO (Medium Earth Orbit). It will provide global users with open and high-quality services free of charge, including navigation, positioning, timing, short message communication, search and rescue and so on. 47)
- BDS is aimed at developing into a world-class global navigation satellite system, with innovative and advanced technologies, extraordinary user experience, international development and worldwide presence, which can provide fundamental time and space reference for national defense and economic-social development, and advance the progress of high-tech and IT industries.
- BDS has initiated several innovative attempts in the fields of both international satellite navigation and domestic aerospace for the first time, and paved a unique development path of a satellite navigation system, with an eye on the state conditions and distinctive features. On Jan. 9, 2017, the BD-2 Project won the top National Scientific and Technological Progress Award. In 2017, BDS achieved fruitful results in the aspects of system construction, integrated applications and international development.
• December 4, 2017: The United States and China have negotiated compatible signal characteristics that will both protect and enhance service for users of the U.S. GPS and Chinese BeiDou constellations. - The achievement resulted from several years of discussions between U.S. and Chinese GNSS experts. The consensus to make the systems compatible and interoperable at the user level will mean better service for users of both systems worldwide. 48)
- The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Office of Space and Advanced Technology represents the United States in the ongoing U.S.-China GNSS Cooperation Dialog, which began in May 2014 and covers various topics.
- Compatibility of the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) with GPS has been a core focus of the discussions. The U.S.-China Joint Statement on signal compatibility and interoperability is provided on the gps.gov website.
• September 2017: Over the past 15 years China has been constructing its navigation satellite system called BeiDou. After an initial experimental phase, which was completed in 2003, the second generation of the system has become operational in China in 2011 and started offering services in the South-East Asia region in 2015. BeiDou is expected to provide navigation satellite services on a global basis as of 2020. 49)
- The provision of global navigation satellite services will constitute a remarkable achievement, as it will enable China to operate at the same level of other navigation satellite providers, including the United States and Russia. However, the implementation of this plan will pose significant organizational and legal challenges. From an organizational perspective, there will be the need to clearly identify the authorities in charge of operating, supervising and representing the system both domestically and internationally.
- From a regulatory standpoint, the main challenge will be related to the management and distribution of the intended services, as China plans to offer not only an open service (free of user charge) but also an authorized/commercial service to selected users. The provision of the second category of services will indeed raise numerous questions related, for example, to the responsibility to distribute the service on a continuous and reliable manner, the liability of the service distributor for damage caused by incorrect or absent signal, the development of value-added services and the possible deployment of infrastructures in foreign territory, etc. These questions need to be clarified prior to the commencement of global navigation satellite operations.
- Therefore, as none of these issues is addressed within current Chinese legislation it seems worth to discuss and elaborate upon them. Based on a comparative analysis of existing navigation satellite regulations the present paper will put forward a series of recommendations on how China should structure its regulatory framework for the provision of BeiDou's global navigation satellite services.
• In 2015, 15 BeiDou satellites are operational, 20 additional satellites are planned.
• Feb. 10. 2015: According to the news from the Ministry of Transportation, in the 94th meeting of IMO (International Maritime Organization) Maritime Safety Committee, the Navigation Safety Circular of BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System) has been officially approved. It indicates that the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System has become a part of the GNSS (Global Radio Navigation System) and its international legal status has been recognized. 50) 51)
- The IMO Maritime Safety Committee was held Nov. 17-21, 2014 in London, UK. The Ministry of Transportation sent a delegation to attend the meeting and on behalf of Chinese government to make commitment to the IMO. They have introduced BeiDou system’s service performance, operation maintenance and management requirements. Besides, they also explained BeiDou system’s application policy in the international maritime field, and expressed Chinese government’s responsibility and attitude.
- It is known that it is the first time for China’s BeiDou system standard to achieve recognition from International organization. It is also an important milestone for the standardized work of BeiDou system. This will fully promote BeiDou system’s international application in Maritime field and build a solid founding for BeiDou system’s Maritime International Standardized system for the future.
- China as a class member of IMO, the completion of the IMO recognition of BeiDou system would make it become the third navigation satellite system serving world maritime user after GPS and GLONASS system. This will drive BeiDou system’s internationalization and industrialization in the field of navigation area.
- It is reported that, after its approval, China will continue to promote the BeiDou system’s standard , regulation, guidelines formulation and revision for the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), IALA (International Association Of Lighthouse Authorities), International Maritime Radio Technology Committee, ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and other international technical organizations, so as to achieve all-round applications in the international maritime field.
• Basic BeiDou-2 system performance, October 2014: The visibility for LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites provided by the BeiDou-2 system is analyzed and compared with GPS (Global Positioning System). In addition, the spaceborne receivers’ observations are simulated by the BeiDou satellites broadcast ephemeris and LEO satellites orbits. 52)
- The POD (Precise Orbit Determination) results show that the along-track component accuracy is much better over the service area than the non-service area, while the accuracy of the other two directions keeps at the same level over different areas. However, the 3D accuracy over the two areas shows almost no difference. Only taking into consideration the observation noise and navigation satellite ephemeris errors, the 3D accuracy of the POD is about 30 cm. As for the PROD (Precise Relative Orbit Determination), the 3D accuracy is much better over the eastern hemisphere than that of the western hemisphere. The baseline length accuracy is 3.4 mm over the service area, and it is still better than 1 cm over the non-service area.
• December. 27, 2013: China will launch upgraded satellites and expand its regional BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System ) to global coverage by 2020. Over the past year, positioning has been accurate to within 10 m, according to Chengqi Ran, director of the satellite navigation office. 53)
• December 27, 2013: With a constellation of 14 operational satellites in orbit, BDS has been in full service for 1 year to provide open services to the most part of the Asia-Pacific region since December 27, 2012. 54) 55) 56) 57) 58)
The current BDS space segment consists of 5 GEO satellites, 5 IGSO satellites and 4 MEO satellites. The respective positions of satellites are shown in Figure 8.
- The GEO satellites are operating in orbit with an altitude of 35,786 km and positioned at 58.75ºE, 80ºE, 110.5°E, 140°E and 160°E, respectively.
- The IGSO satellites are operating in orbit with an altitude of 35,786 kilometers and an inclination of 55° to the equatorial plane. The phase difference of right ascensions of ascending nodes of those orbital planes is 120°. The sub-satellite tracks for three of those IGSO satellites are coincided while the longitude of the intersection point is at 118°E. The sub-satellite tracks for the other two IGSO satellites are coincided while the longitude of the intersection point is at 95°E.
- The MEO satellites are operating in orbit with an altitude of 21,528 kilometers and an inclination of 55° to the equatorial plane. The satellite recursion period is 13 rotations within 7 days. The phase is selected from the Walker24/3/1 constellation, and the right ascension of ascending node of the satellites in the first orbital plane is 0°. The current 4 MEO satellites are in the 7th and 8th phases of the first orbital plane, and in the 3rd and 4th phases of the second orbital plane respectively.
Figure 9: The BDS regional service coverage (image credit: CSNPC, Ref. 55)
• Operational overview of the BeiDou-2 satellite constellation. Up to June 2012, three BeiDou-2 satellites have been launched in 2012. 59)
Figure 10: Operational status of the BeiDou system in the summer of 2012 (image credit: CSNO, Ref. 59)
• Since a pre-operational status has been reached, the Compass/BeiDou-2 navigation signals can already be tracked by various commercial multi-GNSS receivers. This enables the determination of Compass/BeiDou-2 orbit and clock products independent of the control segment and paves the way for initial experimentation. 60) 61) 62)
- A total of 13 Compass/BeiDou-2 satellites have been launched, out of which 11 satellites are in active service in the summer of 2012. These include two satellites in medium altitude Earth orbits (MEO), as well as four satellites in geostationary orbits (GEO) and five satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbits (IGSOs). With a total of nine satellites permanently visible in the Asia-Pacific region, Compass/BeiDou is the third constellation (following the GPS and GLONASS constellations) that can offer an independent navigation service in this area.
- The unique availability of three carriers on all Compass/BeiDou-2 satellites enables novel strategies for differenced and undifferenced positioning. Based on B2 and B3 measurements, an EWL (Extra-WideLane) combination with a wavelength of 4.9 m can be formed. This enables an almost instantaneous EWL ambiguity resolution and greatly facilitates a subsequent widelane ambiguity fixing (Ref. 61).
• Since IOC, the system has performed stably. The space constellation performance has been improved apparently, and the user experience for the PNT (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing) service performance has been enhanced significantly.
• On December 27, 2011, the State Council Information Office, P.R.C. held a press conference to announce the initial service of the BeiDou System (Ref. 59). - The CNSS was activated on a trial basis. The network would initially provide coverage for China and its peripheral areas, and would offer service to the Asia-Pacific region by late 2012 (Ref. 59). 63)
Performance of IOC (Initial Operational Capability) service:
- Service coverage area: Longitudinal extend: 84ºE to 160ºE; Latitudinal extend: ±55º
- Positioning accuracy: 25 m horizontal and 30 m vertical
- Velocity accuracy: 0.4 m/s
- Timing accuracy: 50 ns
Figure 11: Illustration of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System coverage area (image credit: CSNO)
Some system testing receiver results are: 66)
- The Compass SV (Space Vehicle) signal quality parameters are well in accordance with their specifications
- The current Compass constellation (Sept. 2011) can provide a positioning service in the Asia-Pacific region - indedendently.
- The Compass constellation helps to improve the multi-system-integrated positioning precision.
- The short-term precision of the Compass B1 (OS) signals is better than the GPS L1 C/A signals.
- The long-term accuracy and stability need to be further improved.
The Compass satellites carry two types of navigation payloads: RDSS (Radio Determination Satellite Service) and RNSS (Radio Navigation Satellite Service), Ref. 25).
More description of the navigation payloads will be provided when the information becomes available.
RDSS (Radio Determination Satellite Service):
The RDSS payload is only flown on the Compass-G satellites. The package includes a high-power S-band transponder, an L-band low-noise amplifier, frequency generator, a large L-/S-band antenna, and a C-band antenna.
In RDSS, the user position is computed by a ground station using the round trip time of signals exchanged via GEO satellite. The RDSS Long term feature further includes: 67)
- Short message communication (guaranteeing backward compatibility with BeiDou-1)
- Large volume message communication
- Information connection
- Extended coverage
- Multi-satellite communication vs. short message by GEO.
RNSS (Radio Navigation Satellite Service):
The RNSS payload is flown on all CNSS/Beidou-2 satellites. The package includes an atomic clock, an L-band transmitter, signal processor, transmitter antenna array, an L-band uplink receiver, laser corner-cube reflector for orbit determination, and a multilateration unit.
The RNSS is very similar to that provided by GPS and Galileo and is designed to achieve similar performances.
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The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).