China Launches its Own GPS Satellites

In case you haven’t noticed, China just put its very own GPS network into service. Dubbed the Beidou system, it recently went active, providing positioning, navigation and timing services to Asian users.

Its not nearly as advanced or robust as the United States’ GPS II system, yet. China is investing heavily in space tech and this year it overtook the U.S. in number of space launches. Beijing rightly sees space tech, particularly systems like GPS and satellite comms as critical to operating on a global scale, in both military and economic terms.

While Chinese officials say the  Beidou system is meant for civilian purposes, it’s obvious that the system — planned to consist of 35 satellites by 2020 — will free China from a reliance on U.S. GPS tech. I’ve got to wonder, how much of China’s GPS tech was developed from espionage against the U.S. system?

  • Nick Pacific


  • sorachart

    Hey Nick 87% is still an -A pretty damn good.

    • elportonative77

      I think 87% is a B+. You need at least a 90 to get an A.

  • Zain s

    i hope Ron Paul wins or china is gonna be a hyperpower soon…

    • Dr. Grzlickson

      I didn’t realize Ron Paul was an economics expert.

      • iknotno

        Actually he is..

    • TH1

      Sorry Zain, but in my opinion Ron Paul would make the second worst president we could have in 2012 (Obama being the first) in terms of protecting the US and putting this country in a position to remain the world’s superpower.

      Reagan - Peace through Strength = worked!
      Obama - ‘hope’ for peace through ‘apologizing’ = setting us up for failure.
      Ron Paul - ‘hope’ for peace through ‘doing nothing’ = suicide.

      • LanceKant

        Hate to burst your bubble, but Reagan’s policies were fine for the Cold War world, not now, when our biggest military rival also happens to be our biggest economic counterpart.

        • Dfens

          F China! Getting into a trade war with them would instantly erase $300 billion of our foreign debt, and put the brakes on runaway federal spending by taking away their biggest lender. Hell, if we stopped all foreign trade we’d put a trillion dollars back into our economy. That’s a hell of a lot of domestic jobs right there. Of course, we’re just a market now. The red, white, and blue doesn’t stand for anything now. They’re just colors.

  • hawk eye

    Text excerpt I : “Its not nearly as advanced or robust as the United States’ GPS II system, yet.”

    Text excerpt II : “I’ve got to wonder, how much of China’s GPS tech was developed from espionage against the U.S. system?”


  • brok3n

    It basically looks like the Chinese have read all our ‘open source’ doctrine and adapted it for their own.

  • Tad

    I’ll bet Chinese rocket scientists read this blog to steal our great ideas.

  • Lance

    If anything else fails a F-15 with a ATSAT missile can deal with one if war came.

    • Chimp

      No, they wouldn’t. Basic physics… though I am sure it’s feasible to nobble satellites in geostationary orbits using some other method. Thing is, if one side starts that, what’s to stop the other side doing the same in retaliation?

    • Chuck

      ASs have a bad tendancy to leave lots of space debris. Most GPS Sats are in LEO, not GEO orbits.

  • mpower6428

    too hell with space, we should spent all our money on another needless war. only this time it should be against “Iran”. nuclear weapons, oil prices, theocracy… SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE. whats important is that our politicians have well funded campaigns and the military contractors ( job creators) get all the money they could ever hope for, you know… for jobs….

    that’ll make us stronger.

  • Black Owl

    I’m wondering if the Chinese copied the Russian GLONASS system too? They spy on Russia almost as much as they spy on us.


    This should be a wakeup call to the Obama Administration and Congress as this is where the $Trillions in US debt goes to, we keep borrowing money and China uses the interest payments to fund their military programs (stealth fighters, new armour vehicles and their own GPS satellites).

    • Lawrence

      US should learn from the fact , they always advocating human right , world peace but in fact they have taken part most of the warfares in the world , they should look into their internal problem especially the economy and social rather than to hit or launch war to other nations, they have been paying too much attention on military rather than their economy , in fact too much spending on military will have the detriment impact for its people, every citizen of US has to bear the cost, nowadays US already strong enough in their military , no other country in the world can beat them , scale-down spending in military and shifting the attention to the economy I think is the best strategy for US.

  • nraddin

    I would say not much honestly. The concepts and technology to operate a GPS like system on the ground could be put together with off the shelf parts by any collage level engineering team. Essentially GPS is a very fast clock and a radio, nothing special. It’s cheap fast computing that in the GPS receiver that really makes the magic happen and it’s really just an radio receiver, a clock and high-school level geometry machine. Putting it into space is another story but if you have the tech for a comm sat, you can easily engineer and deploy a GPS like system.

  • PrometheusGoneWild

    Forget the GPS.
    How many US companies have helped the Chinese rocket program?

  • Enrico

    Forget Galileo, I’m damn sure that the Chinese will complete their navigation system before we do…
    Anyway I heard that it’s been already announced that the military will receive more precise coordinates, like the Americans do with their GPS, how can they claim that it’s been built only for civilian purposes?

  • tribulationtime

    additional uses of your own constellation of satellites: A) Disturbing signals B) Kamikaze GPS erasers (usefull as West forces have higher GPS adittion)

  • Jesus

    95%. That’s Chinese technology-made in USA. We all know that China was able to build its arsenal by spying on other more technologically advanced countries like the US. They had been stealing US technology since the Nixon era. Remember double spies like Larry Wu Tai-Chin who forwarded classified documents to his Chinese handlers, and the various agents posing as “students” they sent to institutions like MIT to spy? Now look at the result. China is bullying smaller nations in the South China Sea claiming it is a “Chinese Lake”. It is obvious that China is flexing its muscles,and would not hesitate to use force, if they view other nations as a threat, like what they did to Vietnamese vessels a while back.

  • Hunter78

    The Chinese, like the Russians and the Euros, are building their own system because: 1) they know US will turn off the civilian side of our GPS in the event of major conflict (with anyone, and that’s how it was designed); and 2) they all want greater accuracy, mostly for civilian uses, like steering vehicles.

    • blight

      Yup. It’s always good to have your own guidance system. That said, one day civilian users of guidance systems might gain a chip that can access signals from more than one constellation, resulting in robust coverage for all at a low price. And when things hit the fan…well, that’s the price of the end of peace.

  • Whatnow

    The difference between the US and China is China does not care about anything but the money. Until we find a way to level the playing field we will have a hard time competing. I have noticed there are cracks in their system. Because the two biggest customer are not buying as much of China’s junk that they stole the technology from China is beginning to hurt also. Many manufactures are finding they make more profit producing their high tech products here because of shipping costs and quality control. When you have to dump a $1million plus run because of poor quality you quit using China. It may have been cheaper to produce but now you can’t sell it.
    If want the US to become like China keep buying from them.

  • ShadowWalker

    China must know something about LightSquared that the US doesn’t know.

  • Figo faisal

    Man I like this because it’s interesting …………!!!!!!!!!