China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) has started offering global service. It is touted as a rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS). Pakistan has become the first foreign nation to use the BeiDou system ending its reliance on GPS. China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System was the fourth global navigation system after US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
China has named its navigation satellite system after the Chinese term which means ‘Big Dipper’. BeiDou-1 consisted of three satellites and was offering navigation services mainly in China and neighbouring regions. It was decommissioned in 2012. The second generation of the navigation system, BeiDou-2 became operational in China in December 2011 with a partial constellation of 10 satellites in orbit and started providing services in the Asia-Pacific region from December 2012. The third generation of the navigation system, BeiDou-3 began to provide global services from 27th December 2018.
The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) named NAVIC is a regional satellite navigation system that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services covering India and a region extending 1,500 km around it. NAVIC provides two levels of service, the standard positioning service, which will be open for civilian use, and restricted service for authorized users (including military). There are plans to expand the NavIC system by increasing the number of satellites from 7 to 11.