Today was China's seventh launch conducted in just five weeks. A pair of Beidou satellites number 28 and 29 were lifted to medium Earth orbit as part of China's planned global covering network. The launch had been set for the same window on Sunday, but was delayed by the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to the launch site.
China has launched a pair of Beidou navigation and positioning satellites to medium Earth orbits from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre among the hills of the Sichuan Province at 13:03 local time (05:03 UTC) bringing the total to seven launches of what is planned to be around 40 missions in a record-breaking 2018. This includes government and commercial launches, with the return-to-flight of the Long March 5 and the Chang'e-4 lunar far side mission.
Beidou is the fourth space-based navigation system in the world, following the GPS in the United States, the GLONASS in Russia and the Galileo of the European Union.
The first Beidou satellite was sent into space in 2000. Since then 33 satellites have been launched for the network. In December of 2012 the Beidou system began providing positioning, navigation, timing and message services to civilian users in China and parts of the Asia-Pacific region. According to plans from the China Satellite Navigation Office, the network will be made up of 35 satellites before the end of 2020
Boosters of the Long March 3B launch vehicle fell downrange close to an inhabited area in Tianlin county in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Previously there was a 'dramatic near miss' in the same region.