China National Space Administration (CNSA)

BeiDou Navigation Satellite System

The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is a Chinese satellite navigation system that offers precise positioning, navigation, and timing services to users worldwide, regardless of weather conditions and at all times. BDS has found extensive applications in various sectors, including transportation, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, hydrological monitoring, meteorological forecasting, communication, power dispatching, disaster relief, and public security.

The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is operated by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), which is a governmental agency of the People’s Republic of China. CNSA is headquartered in Haidian, Beijing and is entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing civil space administration and international space cooperation. It was established in 1993 following the division of the Ministry of Aerospace Industry into CNSA and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The system is composed of two distinct satellite constellations. The initial version, known as the BeiDou Satellite Navigation Experimental System (BeiDou-1), consisted of three satellites and provided limited coverage and navigation services primarily for users in China and nearby regions starting from 2000. BeiDou-1 was retired by the end of 2012.

The second generation, officially known as the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) or COMPASS (BeiDou-2), became operational in China in December 2011. Initially, it had a partial constellation of 10 satellites in orbit. Since December 2012, BDS has been offering services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region. Notably, within this region, BeiDou provides higher accuracy than GPS.

In 2015, China initiated the launch of the third-generation BeiDou system (BeiDou-3) with the objective of achieving global coverage. The first BDS-3 satellite was successfully launched on March 30th, 2015. Subsequently, on December 27th, 2018, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System commenced providing global services. The final satellite of BDS-3, marking the 35th satellite, was launched into orbit on June 23rd, 2020. It was announced in 2016 that BeiDou-3 would attain millimeter-level accuracy with post-processing techniques.

On June 23rd, 2020, the most recent BeiDou satellite was launched, signifying the addition of the 55th satellite to the Beidou family. The third iteration of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System now offers comprehensive global coverage for both timing and navigation services, presenting an alternative to Russia’s GLONASS, the European Galileo positioning system operated by EUSPA, and the USSF GPS from the USA.

The BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System) is structured into three primary segments: the space segment, the ground segment, and the user segment.

The space segment of BDS encompasses satellites positioned in different orbits: Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), Inclined Geo-Synchronous Orbit (IGSO), and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

The ground segment of BDS comprises multiple ground stations, including master control stations, time synchronization/uplink stations, monitoring stations, and facilities for the operation and management of inter-satellite links.

The user segment of BDS includes a variety of BDS basic products, systems, and services that are compatible with other navigation systems. This encompasses fundamental products such as chips, modules, and antennae, as well as terminals, application systems, and application services.

SatelliteOrbitLaunch DateLauncherLaunch Operator
BeiDou-1AGEO 140° EOct 30th, 2000LM-3ACGWIC China
BeiDou-1BGEO 80° EDec 21st, 2000LM-3ACGWIC China
BeiDou-1CGEO 111° EMay 25th, 2003LM-3ACGWIC China
BeiDou-1DGEO 86° EFeb 7th, 2007LM-3ACGWIC China
Compass-M1MEOApr 13th, 2007LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-G2GEO driftingApr 14th, 2009LM-3CCGWIC China
Compass-G1GEO 140° EJan 16th, 2010LM-3CCGWIC China
Compass-G3GEO 80° EJune 2nd, 2010LM-3CCGWIC China
Compass-IGSO1ISGO 118° EJuly 31st, 2010LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-G4GEO 160° EOct 31st, 2010LM-3CCGWIC China
Compass-IGSO2ISGO 118° EDec 17th, 2010LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-IGSO3ISGO 118° EApr 9th, 2011LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-IGSO4ISGO 95° EJuly 26th, 2011LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-IGSO5ISGO 95° EDec 1st, 2011LM-3A      CGWIC China
Compass-G5GEO 59° EFeb 24th, 2012LM-3CCGWIC China
Compass-M3MEOApr 29th, 2012LM-3BCGWIC China
Compass-M4MEOApr 29th, 2012LM-3BCGWIC China
Compass-M5MEOSep 18th, 2012LM-3BCGWIC China
Compass-M6MEOSep 18th, 2012LM-3BCGWIC China
Compass-G6GEO 80° EOct 25th, 2012LM-3CCGWIC China
BeiDou-3 I1-SISGO 95° EMar 30th, 2015LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M1-SMEOJuly 25th, 2015LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M2-SMEOJuly 25th, 2015LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 I2-SISGO 95° ESep 29th, 2015LM-3BCGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M3-SMEOFeb 1st, 2016LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
Compass-IGSO6ISGO 95° EMar 29th, 2016LM-3ACGWIC China
Compass-G7GEO 111° EJune 12th, 2016LM-3CCGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M1MEONov 5th, 2017LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M2MEONov 5th, 2017LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M7MEOJan 11th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M8MEOJan 11th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M3MEOFeb 12th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M4MEOFeb 12th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M9MEOMar 29th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M10MEOMar 29th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
Compass-IGSO7ISGO 95° EJuly 9th, 2018LM-3ACGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M5MEOJuly 29th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M6MEOJuly 29th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M11MEOAug 24th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M12MEOAug 24th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M13MEOSep 19th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M14MEOSep 19th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M15MEOOct 15th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M16MEOOct 15th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 G1GSO 144° ENov 1st, 2018LM-3B/ECGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M17MEONov 18th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M18MEONov 18th, 2018LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 I1ISGO 55° EApr 20th, 2019LM-3B/ECGWIC China
Compass-G8GSOMay 17th, 2019LM-3CCGWIC China
BeiDou-3 I2ISGO 55° EJune 24th, 2019LM-3B/E  CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M23MEOSep 22nd, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M24MEOSep 22nd, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 I3ISGO 55° ENov 4th, 2019LM-3B/E  CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M21MEONov 23rd, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M22MEONov 23rd, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M19MEODec 16th, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 M20MEODec 16th, 2019LM-3B/YZ-1CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 G2GSOMar 9th, 2020LM-3B/E  CGWIC China
BeiDou-3 G3GSOJune 23rd, 2020LM-3B/E  CGWIC China
GEO: Geostationary Earth Orbit
MEO: Medium Earth Orbit
ISGO: Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit
GSO: Geosynchronous Orbit

China National Space Administration (CNSA)

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is a government agency based in Haidian, Beijing, within the People’s Republic of China. It assumes the role of overseeing civil space administration and fostering international cooperation in space-related endeavors. Among its tasks is the coordination of foreign aerospace collaborations. The CNSA operates as an administrative arm under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Established in 1993, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has achieved notable milestones in China’s space exploration history, despite its relatively brief existence. 

These achievements include pioneering the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon with the Chang’e 4 mission, successfully bringing lunar material back to Earth through the Chang’e 5 mission, and becoming the second entity worldwide to accomplish a successful rover landing on Mars with the Tianwen-1 mission.

It’s important to note that while the CNSA governs civil space activities, it does not directly execute specific space programs. Instead, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) handles the execution of China’s state space programs. Additionally, the China Manned Space Program is operated by the China Manned Space Agency, independent of the CNSA.

Historical Background

The CNSA was established in 1993 as part of the division of the Ministry of Aerospace Industry into two distinct entities: the CNSA itself, responsible for policy formulation, and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), tasked with program execution. Initially, these two agencies functioned somewhat cohesively, sharing personnel and management.

In a major restructuring effort in 1998, CASC underwent further division into multiple smaller state-owned companies. This restructuring aimed to create a system resembling the Western defense procurement model, where government agencies set operational policies and subsequently outsourced their operational requirements to government-owned but independently managed entities.

Since the enactment of the Wolf Amendment in 2011, NASA has been compelled by Congress to maintain an exclusion policy with regards to CNSA collaborations. However, these restrictions have occasionally been overcome through periodic initiatives and negotiations.

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Satellite fleet by China National Space Administration (CNSA)

BeiDou Navigation Satellite System