China marks first-ever 'space day'

Beijing: China on Sunday marked it first-ever "Space Day", a move that reflects the country is attaching great importance to the space industry, a media report said. It also marks the 46th anniversary of the successful launch of China's first man-made earth satellite -- Dong Fang Hong One, which was seen as a breakthrough and foundation-laying in the country's space industry, the People's Daily reported. "This year marks the beginning of China's 13th five year plan. The Mars exploration programme for this year will also be approved. The Chang-e four project will kick off, and the Chang-e five project will enter a critical period," said Xu Dazhe, head of China National Space Administration. Three new-generation BeiDou navigation satellites were launched last year, and 98 percent of the components were Chinese made. BeiDou Navigation Satellite System has been in operation since 2000, making China the third country with an autonomous navigation-sattelite system after the US and Russia. BeiDou Navigation Satellite Deputy Chief Designer Zhang Lixin said the navigation system is better than GPS in some performance indicators. "Within the next five years, or by the end of 2020, China will have launched 30 satellites. Eighteen of them will be launched before 2018 and the remaining 12 before the end of 2020. Finally, we will become a global satellite services supplier, with a high level of position accuracy of two to five metres." So far, the Beidou Navigation System has been widely used in such fields as water and environmental monitoring, command and control, as well as search and rescue. In 2014, the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organisation officially approved Beidou Navigation Satellite System for use in operations at sea. IANS