China has launched a new satellite, which will take it a step closer to creating an independent global navigation network, aimed at providing an alternative to the US Global Positioning System.

The satellite is the third in a series of 35 satellites needed for the system, called Beidou or Compass.

The system is expected to provide global navigation services to users around the world by 2020.

Initially only users in Asia and the Pacific region will be able to use its services, which will include navigation, time signal and short message services.

Compass will provide both open and authorised services, with the open free-of-charge service to be provided within service area with a resolution of 10m for positioning, an accuracy of 10 nanoseconds for time signal and 0.2m per second for speed measurement.