Xichang (China) -- China put a navigation satellite into orbit early Saturday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwest province of Sichuan.
The carrier rocket Long March 3-A blasted off at 12.28 a.m. (Beijing time). The satellite separated from the rocket about 24 minutes later. Data from the Xi'an satellite monitoring center showed that the satellite had accurately entered its orbit.
This is China's fourth Beidou (Big Dipper) navigation experimental satellite in orbit. The previous three were sent into space Oct 31, 2000, Dec 21, 2000 and May 25, 2003 respectively.
Experts said the Beidou satellite navigation experimental system has played a significant role in cartography, telecommunications, water conservation, transportation, fishery, forest fire monitoring and national security.
The fourth Beidou navigation satellite may replace the first one when necessary, continuing to provide weather, navigation and positioning information.
According to experts, China is establishing the Compass Navigation Satellite System on the basis of the Beidou satellite system. The compass system will in 2008 fully meet the demand of satellite navigation for clients in China and neighbouring regions.
The compass system will gradually extend to be a global satellite navigation and positioning system after network building and experiments, experts said.
The system can help clients know their location at any time and place with accurate longitude, latitude and altitude data.
The satellite and carrier rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology respectively.
The launch represents the 95th flight of China's Long March series of rockets.