China added a fifth spacecraft to its Beidou-Compass satellite navigation and positioning network July 31 with the successful launch of the first of three Beidou satellites to be placed into an inclined geosynchronous orbit, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news service.

The Long March 3I rocket carrying the satellite lifted off at 5:30 a.m. local time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province.

The Beido-Compass system is designed to include five geostationary-orbit satellites, three satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit for northern coverage and 27 satellites operating in medium Earth orbit.

China expects the system to provide navigation, timing and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region by 2012 and global navigation services by 2020, according to Xinhua.