A China-Arab Beidou System/Global Navigation Satellite System Centre was inaugurated in Tunisia last week. The centre is China’s first attempt at establishing an overseas centre for its Beidou satellites. It is aimed at strengthening cooperation in satellite navigation between China and the Arab nations, according to a statement released by China Satellite Navigation Office, and will enable China to offer more Beidou-based services in the Arab world.
China Satellite Navigation Office and the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organisation (AICTO) got together last week at the El Ghazala Technological Park in Tunis to announce the inauguration of the China-Arab Beidou System/Global Navigation Satellite System Centre.
A statement released by China Satellite Navigation Office stated that the centre, which is jointly run by the Chinese and Arab entities will evaluate and explore Beidou’s navigation and positioning services in the Arab world, while also carrying out research and training on Beidou.
It added that five Chinese experts would provide a three-day training session at the centre to more than 40 satellite navigation professionals from Arab nations.
China and the Arab League held the First China-Arab States Beidou System Cooperation Forum in May in Shanghai. The two sides pledged to strengthen their communication and collaboration in satellite navigation and to bring Beidou-based services to Arab states to benefit social and economic development.
Beidou is one of the four space-based navigation networks along with GPS from the United States, GLONASS from Russia and Galileo from the European Union.
Since 2000, when the first Beidou satellite was placed into orbit, 33 satellites have been launched for the network. Beidou has provided positioning, navigation, timing and messaging services to civilian users in China and parts of the Asia-Pacific region since December 2012. China now has plans to launch 18 third-generation Beidou satellites into space before the end of 2018.
According to the China Satellite Navigation Office, the network will include 35 satellites before the end of 2020 to give Beidou global coverage. Several now in orbit will be decommissioned by then. Beidou currently covers more than 30 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia.