China on Tuesday launched the final satellite in its homegrown geo-location system, completing a network designed to rival American GPS as it jostles for market share in the lucrative sector.
The Chinese media hailed it as another milestone in the country’s space programme.
The Beidou system — named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation — works on a network of about 30 satellites and competes with the US’s Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
The final satellite, the Beidou-3GEO3, will help improve the network’s accuracy.
China started building the system in the early 1990s to help cars, fishing boats and military tankers navigate using mapping data from the country’s own satellites.
Now the service can be used on millions of mobile phones to find nearby restaurants, petrol stations or cinemas, and to guide taxis.
Around 120 countries, including Pakistan and Thailand, use the services for port traffic monitoring, guiding post-disaster rescue operations and other uses, according to Chinese state media.