China has launched a pair of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) satellites into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.

A Long March-3B carrier rocket has been used to launch the satellites, which represent the 42nd and 43rd units of the BDS family.

Around three hours after the launch, the satellites entered their planned medium-Earth orbits to join the 17 BDS-3 satellites currently operating in space.

The launch has enabled China to complete the basic constellation of BDS network, which is expected to serve countries that are part of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative by the end of this year, reported Xinhua.

“The basic BDS-3 constellation has been completed, marking a milestone for the Chinese BeiDou to go truly global.”

Speaking at a press conference, BeiDou system chief designer Yang Changfeng said: “The basic BDS-3 constellation has been completed, marking a milestone for the Chinese BeiDou to go truly global.

“BDS will reach worldwide coverage after the Monday launch with an enhanced accuracy of between 2.5m and 5m, and it will provide service that is twice as good as the previous BDS-2, without even being noticed by the users.”

The BeiDou system has been serving China since 2000 and started providing its services to the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.

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China has launched 19 BDS-3 satellites since last November, according to Global Times.

Between 2019 and 2020, China aims to launch six additional medium-Earth orbit BDS-3 satellites, three inclined geosynchronous-Earth orbit satellites and two geostationary-Earth orbit satellites into space.