China has launched its third Beidou satellite and says the GPS service will be in operation by 2012.
A Chinese Long March rocket propelled the new navigation satellite to geosynchronous orbit on Saturday.
The satellite is the third member of the second-generation Beidou constellation. China expects to launch ten Beidou navigation satellites over the next two years, China Daily reported, quoting the newly-opened website.
Beidou – meaning “compass” - will rival the US-developed GPS, the EU's Galileo and the planned Russian Global Navigation Satellite System.
It will be completed in 2020 with 35 satellites, comprising five geo-stationary and 30 non-geostationary craft, according to Pang Zhihao, a senior researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology.
China aims to provide a positioning and navigation service by 2012 with a constellation of 12 Beidou satellites, covering the Asia-Pacific region. The first two satellites are already in place.