The penultimate satellite required to complete the BeiDou global positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) system was launched from the Xichang satellite launch centre in southwestern China on 9 March.
The BeiDou system has been developed in three phases. The first phase was largely experimental with the first satellite placed in orbit in October 2000. The second phase provided a regional navigation system and was declared operational in 2012. The third phase provides global coverage, with the launch of the final satellite in the network planned for May.
A total of 54 BeiDou-2 and BeiDou-3 satellites have been launched since 2007, although these include some platforms that provide a degree of redundancy and others used to fully develop the BeiDou-3 system.
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