China Releases "Crucial" Report About Its Navigation Satellite System Following U.S.-China Workshop

China Releases "Crucial" Report About Its Navigation Satellite System Following U.S.-China Workshop

In December 2011, China released a “crucial” report providing information about its civil satellite navigation signals following a workshop sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.  The report of the workshop was released by the NAE today.

Several countries have or are developing satellite systems that provide positioning, navigation, and timing data –or Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).  The United States operates the Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia has GLONASS, Europe is developing Galileo, and China is developing BeiDou (Compass).   Japan and India also are launching regional (rather than global) systems.

In May 2011, the NAE and its Chinese counterpart held a workshop in China to discuss matters of mutual interest about navigation satellite systems.  The workshop’s goal was to “promote technical and policy-related cooperation between the United States and China regarding their respective navigation satellite systems … to the benefit of China, the United States, and other GNSS users worldwide,” according to the NAE report.

One hurdle was that little information was known publicly about China’s system.  In December, seven months after the workshop and just before the workshop report went to press, China released a “crucial” document with information about its civil navigation signals, the report states in its preface.  The preface was written by three prominent navigation satellite experts who participated in the workshop — Bradford Parkinson of Stanford University (often called the father of GPS); Per Enge, also of Stanford; and Liu Jingnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

They added that “[t]he recent exchange of data will improve the accuracy and availability of real-time position, navigation and time data for all users worldwide.  This exchange will foster interchangeability of satellite signals, which will greatly decrease outages” for users whose view of the sky is impaired by mountains, tall buildings, or other obstructions.

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