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China to Take on GPS With Its Own Satellite Navigation System

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Taking a great step towards reducing its dependency on foreign technology, China has officially launched its own satellite navigation system.
Named "Beidou" -- or Big Dipper in Chinese -- the system, which began development a decade ago, is an alternative to the US-owned Global Positioning System (or GPS), which, of course, is utilized for everything from Google (GOOG) Maps to the iPhone (AAPL) to Verizon’s (VZ) VZ Navigator.
Prior to the introduction of Beidou, the Chinese military was reliant on the GPS system, which would put them at a big disadvantage should a war break out between China and the US, since the latter could easily block access to the system.
However, besides being useful for geopolitical reasons, Beidou’s developers also emphasize the commercial potential of the system. The BBC notes that Beidou could open up a 400 billion yuan ($63.2 billion) market in the telecommunications, automotive, fishing and other industries by 2020. Beidou is also compatible and interoperable with GPS and other global navigation systems. 
Civilian users of the system will be able to obtain geolocation accuracy of 10 meters and speed measurements with an accuracy of 0.2 meters-per-second. The Chinese military, however, has the ability to obtain more accurate data.
Currently, Beidou relies on 10 satellites, but Beijing aims to launch six more into space by the end of 2012 so the system will be able to blanket Asia. By 2020, the state hopes to have a network on 35 satellites that can provide global coverage.
Besides the American GPS system and China’s Beidou, other satellite navigation systems include Russia’s Glonass network, which was made available for civilian use in 2007, and the EU’s Galileo system, which the European Space Agency hopes to launch in 2019.
Not resting on its laurel, Lockheed Martin (LMT) is also working to upgrade the American system to GPS III
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