China launches satellite for own GPS system

A Chinese rocket placed a navigation satellite in orbit as part of China's effort to build a global positioning system, the official Xinhua News Agency, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report said the Long March 3-A rocket blasted off from the Xichang launching center in southwestern China and a short time later the satellite was maneuvered into orbit, 21,500 kilometers above the earth, Xinhua said.

The satellite is the fourth China has launched as part of its Compass navigation system, which will provide navigation and positioning services beginning in China in 2008, Xinhua said.

A decade ago China grew worried about dependence on the US satellite GPS network, the dominant positioning system, and began to develop alternatives, the report said.

Besides the Compass system, China is investing in the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system and is talking about participating in Russia 's GLONASS system, the report further said.