Beidou satellites show importance of indigenous core technology
A leading Chinese expert has stressed that China's home-grown Beidou Navigation Satellite System demonstrates the necessity for the country to grasp a core technology that is entirely self-developed, after a US ban on a leading Chinese smartphone maker.
On Monday, the US Department of Commerce banned US companies from selling key components to ZTE for seven years, which many insiders believe will bring a huge loss to the company.
The Beidou Navigation Satellite System, or BDS, independently developed and operated by China, is named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation. The project was formally launched in 1994, and it began to serve China in 2000, and then the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.
According to a white paper on the BDS, China upholds the principles of "independence, openness, compatibility and gradualness" in the system's construction and development. By "independence," it means to uphold independent construction, development and operation of the BDS, and acquire the ability to independently provide satellite navigation services to the rest of the world.
Yang Yuguang is a professor from the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation and the secretary of the International Astronautical Federation Space Transportation Committee. He stressed that it's necessary for China to build its own navigation satellite system using core technologies that are completely indigenous.
"In the space capable nations of the whole world, the United States and Russia have global positioning systems. And also the European Union or the ESA has its own navigation satellite system called Galileo. And for India and Japan, they also built their regional navigation satellite systems. So you can see, almost all the space capable nations with no exception has built their own navigation satellite systems and of course China should do it," said Yang.
Some reports have shown that an object's position can be located as accurate as within one meter by using the BDS. Yang Yuguang said there's still much room to improve such accuracy by developing China's own technology.
"According to the official release, the Beidou system can provide positioning accuracy better than ten meters. They can also provide more accurate services. With a ground enhance system, they can provide accuracy better than one meter. I should emphasize that the navigation satellite system has been used widely and it has already formed a huge industry, which values billions or even trillions of dollars," said Yang.
Many models of smartphone brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and HTC support the BDS, and more are expected to do so in the future. China has already sold over 50 million domestically manufactured chips connected to the system in the past five years. By 2020, the value of China's satellite navigation business is expected to surpass 400 billion yuan, or about 58 billion U.S. dollars. Around 60 to 80 percent of that value will be generated by the BDS.