The central government planned to launch about 10 satellites over the next two years and complete its Beidou-2 global satellite navigation system of about 30 satellites before 2015, state media reported yesterday. Zhao Xiaojin, director of the astronautics department at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, was quoted by China Central Television as saying: 'The launching of new navigation satellites is in the countdown period.' Xinhua reported that a new Beidou navigation satellite would be launched on Wednesday. The country's first Beidou satellite was launched in 2000. The Beidou-1 system of four satellites is experimental and has limited coverage and application. Beidou is the Chinese word for the Big Dipper constellation. An analyst said the launch schedule showed Beijing's ambition to transform its small regional satellite navigation system into a full global programme. The Beidou-2 system aims to perform in much the same way as the US Global Positioning System (GPS). It is scheduled to be operational ahead of the European Union's Galileo System, in which China is a partner. Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review, said China's expansion into an independent satellite navigation system was anticipated. 'Currently, Beijing has to rely on the US military owned GPS system. Its own version of the GPS system will provide China with more reliable and effective navigation and positioning of force deployment. The Chinese military, especially its precision-guided weapons, will benefit.' Mr Zhao said the Beidou-2 would 'free the country from dependence on foreign navigation satellite systems', boost the hi-tech sector and help the country's economic growth. The Beidou-1 system serves both commercial and military purposes. Many analysts say the Beidou-2 is driven by a combination of commercial, civil and national-security motives.