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CGTN: BeiDou's contribution to global community
Posted by CGTN    2023-3-10    994

Editor's note: Navigation satellite systems, as many other technological innovation, are the common wealth of humanity. China has carried out active international cooperation on the BeiDou system and advanced its international applications. What can the BeiDou system do to contribute global development? Shen Jun, chief scientist of Beijing UniStrong, shares his stories and insight. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hello, welcome to China Talk. I am Shen Jun, chief scientist of Beijing UniStrong Science and Technology Corporation Limited.

Beidou, or the Big Dipper, is a cluster of bright stars in the sky that ancient people used to find their way north. The compass was one of the Four Great Inventions that our ancestors contributed to human civilization. Today, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, or BDS, assigns a new meaning to the compass and navigation, bringing the latest Chinese wisdom to the world. Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of participating in the development of BDS. Today, I would like to share some of its stories with you.   

I would never forget, on June 23, 2020, when the last satellite of BDS-3 was successfully sent into space. It marked the completion of China's domestically developed BDS-3 constellation. About a month later, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced to the world that BDS-3 was officially commissioned.

From an idea proposed in 1983 to the independent development starting in 1994, from the successful launch of the first BDS experimental satellite in 2000, to providing global services in 2020, it took us almost four decades' unremitting endeavor.

This is Dr. Chen Fangyun, a famous Chinese scientist. As early as 1983, he explained positioning could be achieved by using two satellites, and a terminal would work like a walkie-talkie, with a two-way communication scheme to receive services. This idea laid the foundation for BDS development, which began in 1994. In late 2003, with a 3-satellite constellation in place, the BeiDou Experimental System, BDS-1, was declared operational. China became the third country in the world to possess its own satellite navigation system.

When the devastating Wenchuan earthquake struck in 2008, the entire ground-based communication infrastructure was destroyed. While people were anxiously waiting for any information during the communication blackout time, the first report from the quake center was transmitted through the BeiDou short message service.

BDS-1 also provided real-time communication and position reporting to fishermen. Each year, Chinese fishermen spend more than half of their time over the sea. Before BDS came to the scene, they completely lost contact with their families and management when they sailed over the sea. As thousands of fishing vessels equipped with BDS terminals, fishermen could communicate with their families and management in real time.

I personally participated in the construction of the Pakistan National Location Service Network which can provide accurate positioning, navigation, timing and short message services. I could see the joy of the local people when the system was put in service in the city of Karachi.

On 31 July, 2020, the BDS-3 global navigation satellite system was officially commissioned.

Internationally, BDS provides strong support to the Belt and Road Initiative, and its products and services have been taken in more than half of the countries and regions in the world. I personally witnessed that people in Tunisia cheered when a BDS-enabled auto-steering tractor was running in the field.

As one of the four Global Navigation Satellite Systems recognized by the United Nations, BDS is a public good dedicated to the world. It strives to achieve compatibility and interoperability with its foreign counterparts. As a result, it can not only co-exist with other navigation satellite systems, but also work with them to provide better services. Twenty years ago, when I first attended an international conference abroad, I took pictures with every big fellow at the conference, dreaming I could be one of them someday. Today, BDS experts are invited to speak at international conferences, participate in panel discussions and receive prestigious awards.

BDS is a national important space infrastructure that provides all-weather, all-day, high-precision positioning, navigation and timing services for global users.

I have been working with BDS for over 20 years, and I believe that its development steps will not stop.

Thank you.

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