A few weeks ago, China launched the final satellite in its BeiDou-3 satellite positioning system. Didnâ€™t know that China had its own GPS? How about Europeâ€™s Galileo, Russiaâ€™s GLONASS, or Japanâ€™s QZSS? Thereâ€™s a whole world of GPS-alikes out there. Letâ€™s take a look.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) that many of us know and use flew its first satellite in the distant past of 1978, just five years after the project began. Becoming fully operational in 1993, it was originally intended for use by the military. After decrees by government and the increase in civilian accuracy in 2000, GPS took the world by storm.
While open access to GPS spawned new industries and made navigation easier for everyone, governments worldwide were keenly aware that such a useful system was under the sole control of the United States. As more came to rely on it for day to day activities, it became clear to many that it would be advantageous to have a system under their own control.
These factors have led to the development of a spate of satellite navigation systems being developed by other nation states. Russiaâ€™s GLONASS, the European Unionâ€™s Galileo, and Chinaâ€™s BeiDou navigation system all offer comparable functionality to GPS. Meanwhile, Japan and India have both undertaken the construction of regional navigational systems, with QZSS and NAVIC, respectively. Each have their own unique qualities, and it bears learning about the relative systems and what they bring to satellite navigation.
See Not Just GPS: New Options For Global Positioning
A few weeks ago, China launched the final satellite in its BeiDou-3 satellite positioning system. Didnâ€™t know that China had its own GPS? How about Europeâ€™s Galileo, Russiaâ€™s GLONâ€¦