On December 17, 2010 at 20:20 (UTC) the "Long March 3A” (Chang Zheng-3A) rocket-carrier was launched from Xichang Cosmodrome in southwestern China's Sichuan province. The rocket orbited the "Beidou” (Compass) navigation satellite.
It is the seventh operational Beidou satellite launched since 2007. Five Beidou space vehicles have been sent into orbit this year.
The Beidou, or Compass, network should be ready to provide positioning and navigation services for China and neighboring countries by 2012. Global service should be available from up to 35 Beidou satellites by 2020, according to Chinese officials. The Beidou fleet will provide Chinese military and citizens an indigenous source of precise navigation information. The country currently relies on the U.S. Air Force's Global Positioning System.