China Saturday announced the launch of its "Compass" navigation satellite which will begin service next year.

The official Xinhua news agency said the satellite, designed to serve customers throughout China and neighboring countries, was put in orbit by its carrier rocket Long March 3-A after blast off from the Xichang launch center in southwest Sichuan Province.

The report said the "Compass" system will provide navigation and positioning services in the areas of transportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring, disaster forecast, telecommunications and public security.

China said it plans to launch more such satellites in the coming years.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International