BEIJING, Nov. 6 (China Space News) -- China launched two BeiDou-3 satellites into space via a single carrier rocket to support its global navigation and positioning network at 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
The satellites were aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket which took off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
This is the first two BeiDou-3 satellites launched by China, as its self-developed BeiDou Navigation Satellite System officially began to expand into a global network.
Named after the Chinese term for the plough or the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDou project was formally initiated in 1994. It began to serve China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2012.
Compared to earlier generation satellites, the BeiDou-3 is able to send signals that are better compatible with other satellite navigation systems and provide satellite-based augmentation, as well as search and rescue services in accordance with international standards.
China plans to launch 18 BeiDou-3 satellites around the end of 2018 to expand the BeiDou services to the countries along the Belt and Road routes.
The BeiDou-3 satellites and the carrier rocket were developed by China Academy of Space Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, respectively.