China: ‘Unparalleled’ positioning network coming for globe

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - China will soon start building a space-based positioning and navigation system designed to provide unparalleled accuracy to users around the world, according to project managers.

The Kuilong system will link China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System with the Hongyan Satellite Constellation, on which construction will soon begin, said He Xing, executive vice-president of China Great Wall Industry Corp, which initiated the Kuilong program.

After the system is completed, Kuilong users will have access to their exact position accurate to about 10 centimeters in less than one minute, no matter where they are, He told China Daily on Thursday on the sidelines of the Sixth China Space Forum in Beijing.

He said the typical accuracy of a GPS reading on a mobile phone or car-mounted GPS receiver is about 5 to 10 meters, and positioning services are scarce to nonexistent in isolated places.

The Kuilong system will involve a sophisticated chain of electronic transactions from the ground to tens of thousands of kilometers above Earth, said He Mu, head of the Kuilong program at Great Wall Industry.

The Beidou system will obtain basic positioning data and then transmit it to ground control, which will use algorithms to improve accuracy before sending the information to the Hongyan constellation.

Hongyan satellites, carrying augmentation devices in low orbit, will further process the positioning data and deliver it to end users around the globe, He Mu said.

The first Hongyan satellite is scheduled to be launched this month atop a Long March 2D carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned space giant and parent of Great Wall Industry.

The satellite will perform technological demonstrations in an orbit about 1,100 kilometers high to verify Hongyan satellites’ compatibility with low-orbit and data-transmission capacity, designers said.

China Aerospace intends to carry aloft about 60 Hongyan satellites before the end of 2022, and then place more than 200 smaller satellites in orbit to form a network with global reach.

“When the 60 Hongyan satellites begin working in orbit, users will be able to know their position with 10-centimeter accuracy within three minutes anywhere in the world,” He Mu said. “Once the entire 300-plus-satellite Hongyan constellation is operational, the Kuilong system will become fully functional and will give its users the same accuracy in less than a minute.”

Kuilong would revolutionize a wide range of businesses including the internet of things and smart transportation, he said.

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