China Launches Next-gen Beidou Navigation Satellite

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WASHINGTON — China launched a new navigation satellite and payload dispenser March 31 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province aboard a Long March 3C rocket, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The “new-generation” Beidou satellite will test new navigation signals and intersatellite links, Xinhua said.

The launch also marked China’s first use of a “shuttle-like” craft that was used to release the Beidou satellite and is capable of deploying multiple satellites into different orbits, Xinhua said.

The Beidou system, whose first launch was in 2000, provides navigation, positioning and messaging services to civilian users in China and surrounding regions, Xinhua said.