Chinese satellite navigation system is on

Dec. 27, 2011 at 5:51 PM

BEIJING, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- China's rival system to the U.S. Global Positioning System has begun offering navigation data, Chinese officials say.

China's satellite navigation system, dubbed Beidou, has become operational and is now offering location, timing and navigation data to China and surrounding areas, project spokesman Ran Cheng said.

China has been working on the system since 2000 to provide an alternative to the U.S.-operated GPS and make China's military less dependent on foreign technology, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The tenth of the Beidou system's satellites was launched earlier this month and China says it will orbit another six to extend the system to most parts of Asia.

Beidou -- which translates as the Big Dipper -- joins the U.S. GPS system and Russia's Glonass system in providing satellite-based location and navigation services.

The European Union is developing its own system -- Galileo -- and launched its first satellite in October, with the goal of completing the network in 2019.

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