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Beidou 3M9



The Beidou network will provide positioning and timing signals alongside other global navigation systems, such as the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System, the Russian military’s Glonass fleet, and Europe’s Galileo constellation, which is still in the deployment phase.

The Beidou satellites are flying in an orbit inclined 55 degrees to the equator, joining the Chinese navigation fleet in a Medium Earth Orbit. The third-generation Beidou satellites launched Sunday are the ninth and tenth of their type to join the navigation constellation since last November.

With Sunday’s launch, China’s Beidou program has added nine new satellites this year, including three previous Long March 3B flights with pairs of Beidou spacecraft going to Medium Earth Orbit, plus a Long March 3A launch earlier this month with a single payload heading for an inclined geosynchronous orbit.

Named for the Chinese word for the Big Dipper constellation, the Beidou constellation achieved an initial operating capability with coverage over the Asia-Pacific region in 2012. Development of the Beidou program began in 1994, and global service is expected to begin in 2020.

The first Beidou test satellite launched in 2000. With this mission, China has launched 34 Beidou navigation payloads into orbit, but some were test satellites and many are no longer operational. When fully deployed, the Beidou fleet will consist of 35 satellites, including 27 spacecraft in Medium Earth Orbit, the destination for the payloads launched.

Alternate Names

  • 43581
  • Beidou3M9

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2018-07-29
Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B/E+YZ-1
Launch Site: Xichang, Peoples Republic of China


  • Navigation/Global Positioning

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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