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China launches GPS-like Beidou satellite services across Asia-Pacific region

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China has kicked off commercial and public services of its Beidou satellite navigation system across the Asia-Pacific rim in earnest, after finishing trials it started last year. Civilians in the region as far away as Australia are now able to navigate using the satellites to a distance of 30 feet and speeds as low as 0.5 mph -- comparable to (WAAS-less) GPS, according to officials. Currently the nation has 16 navigation satellites aloft along with four experimental models, and expects to provide worldwide coverage by 2020 when it'll have as many as 40 additional units in orbit, according to China Daily. China launched the project in 2000 to avoid reliance on the US GPS system, and joins that service, Russia's GLONASS and eventually Galileo in the EU at the sat nav soirée. Check the source for the party line.

[Image credit: Xinhua]

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