BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- China's launch of the last satellite belonging to the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) on Tuesday, which marked the completion of the deployment of its own global navigation system, has garnered widespread attention from foreign media.
The satellite, the 55th in the family of BeiDou that means "Big Dipper" in Chinese, was launched at 9:43 a.m. Beijing Time (0143 GMT) and sent into the preset orbit by a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The mission, the 336th by the Long March rocket series, was a "complete success," the launch center said.
The successful launch of the final satellite in China's BeiDou constellation marked "a further step in the country's advance as a major space power," the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The BDS, one of four global navigation satellite systems in the world, promises to provide navigational services and global coverage for timing, it said.
The other three global navigation systems are GPS of the United States, Galileo of the European Union, and GLONASS of Russia.
The AP noted that the Chinese government has been devoting vast resources to developing "independent high-tech capabilities" over the past two decades, with a rapid rise in its space program.
"I think the Beidou-3 system being operational is a big event," Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was quoted by the Agence France-Presse as saying on Tuesday.
"This is a big investment from China and makes China independent of U.S. and European systems," McDowell said.
Compared with other global systems in the world, the design of the BDS constellation is unique, including its medium earth orbit, inclined geosynchronous orbit and geostationary earth orbit satellites, according to the satellite developer China Academy of Space Technology.
Press Trust of India reported that India is also "building its navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System" and said China's move brought it closer to becoming a space power.
State news agency Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Pakistan, one of the first foreign countries to use China's navigation satellite system, has cooperated with China in training and application systems as well as performance monitoring and assessment.
Reuters said the BeiDou navigation network will give China greater independence from U.S.-owned GPS.
"BeiDou was obviously designed a few decades after GPS, so it has had the benefit of learning from the GPS experience," Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
"It has some signals that have higher bandwidth, giving better accuracy. It has fewer orbit planes for the satellites, making constellation maintenance easier," Dempster said.
Several media also reported on the development of China's BeiDou system and its components. According to Associated Press of Pakistan, "Pakistan has become the first foreign country in the world to use the BDS services," and related projects have "helped basic geographic surveying, land management and port dispatching with reduced costs and enhanced efficiency."
China's Satellite Navigation System Management Office said on Tuesday that once the satellite commences formal operation, it will work with other BeiDou satellites and together they will provide global users with all-time, all-weather and high-accuracy positioning, navigation and timing services.
China started to explore a navigation satellite system suited to its national conditions in the 1980s, laying down a three-step strategy.
The BDS-1 project, the first step, also known as BeiDou Navigation Satellite Demonstration System, was completed and put into operation in 2000. The second step was to construct the BDS-2 system, and it started providing regional services for users in the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. Enditem