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Curious timing: China, Russia to build new navigation satellite ground stations

A Chinese-source chart illustrates that, in the bright yellow areas, users can receive highly accurate signals from up to 16 Beidou navigation satellites, but Beidou coverage would be complete following the launch of 160 signal augmentation satellites.

FPI / October 12, 2022


By Richard Fisher

China and Russia continue the integration of their respective Beidou and Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) navigation satellite (navsat) systems — at a time when China and Russia are also developing their military entente to very likely include nuclear war cooperation.

In October 2021, China and Russia held the eighth meeting of the “China-Russia Project Committee on Major Strategic Cooperation in Satellite Navigation.”

In the latest move, on Sept. 27 Russian Roscosmos CEO Yury Borisov and the chairman of the China Satellite Navigation System Committee, He Yubin, signed a contract to build three ground stations on the other’s territory for their respective navigation satellite systems.

A press release noted that Russia’s GLONASS stations will be located in Changchun, Urumqi and Shanghai, and China’s Beidou navsat ground stations in Obninsk, Irkutsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

The new ground stations will allow continued integration of signals from the 35 Beidou navigation satellites and 24 of the GLONASS constellation.

In early February 2022, Russia’s Sputnik quoted Chinese military expert Qian Liyan saying:

“BeiDou and GLONASS each have their own advantages. If they could be deeply linked or even interoperable, they could form an ideal navigation system, which would not only facilitate cross-border transport between the two sides in peacetime, but also improve the stability and survivability of the whole navigation system by relying on each other in wartime.”

Building ground stations in the other’s country will increase the accuracy of the Beidou and GLONASS constellations; With ground augmentation systems Beidou can provide accuracy to the millimeter level.

But while ground station augmentation is useful for fixed areas like airports to assist airliner or combat aircraft automatic landing, ground augmentation cannot be extended everywhere, especially to the oceans.

So, China is planning a constellation of 160 100-kilogram satellites for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that will provide global coverage and take the place of ground augmentation systems.

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FPI, Free Press International
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