China has launched Tiantong-01, the nation's first dedicated satellite for its home-grown mobile satellite communications system.
The satellite was launched in the early hours of Saturday from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center by the Long March-3B carrier rocket, state-owned news agency Xinhuareported.
Tiantong-01 was designed by the China Academy of Space Technology. The ground service will be provided by China Telecom, and will be used to provide services in China, MEA and other areas.
According to the report, more satellites will be added to the communications network in future as demand grows.
Development of the project began following a devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Wenchuan in 2008, as part of efforts to ensure communications networks remain operational when disaster strikes.
The project is also aimed at providing services in hard to reach areas such as oil rigs, mountains and deep forests.
Tiantong-01 will meanwhile serve as a key component of China's space information infrastructure. It will operate in a geosynchronous orbit.