China has launched their 32nd orbital mission of 2018 successfully deploying the BeiDou-3 G1Q navigation satellite into orbit. The satellite is the 41st launched in aid of the country’s alternative to the United States’ GPS system.
The Long March 3B carrying the BeiDou-3 G1Q satellite lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 17:57 UTC (23:57 local time). A little over an hour after the launch, the China Aerospace, Science and Technology Group (CASC) confirmed that the satellite had been deployed successfully into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Unlike previous BeiDou-3 satellites that operate in medium Earth orbit, the BeiDou-3 G1Q will occupy a geostationary orbit. The satellite’s main function will be to facilitate backwards compatibility with operational BeiDou-2 assets. There are currently 12 operational BeiDou-2 satellites in orbit and the G1Q will ensure that their functionality will not go to waste.
China has aggressively added to their compliment of BeiDou-3 satellites this year. In 2018 alone, the country has successfully deployed 16 satellites over 9 launches in aid of the navigation system. An additional two more BeiDou-3 satellites are expected to be launched towards the end of this month aboard a Long March 3B rocket. Officials hope to have the network fully operation in the first half of 2020.