Wow that was a busy week with respect to GNSS launches. The week was started by the GPS system launching its 9th block IIF satellite on March 25. It was followed by the second Galileo FOC launch on March 30. There was quite some anxiety about the Galileo launch as the first FOC launch did put the two GALILEO satellites in a wrong orbit due to an issue with the fregat upper stage. The week was completed by a very secretive BeiDou launch by the Chinese.
The GPS launch is basically just a continuation of the IIF launches and from that point of view nothing new. But of course very important to keep the GPS constellation alive and kicking.
The Galileo and BeiDou launch are certainly more interesting. For Galileo although being the second FOC launch it is actually the first as the initial launch resulted in the satellites ending up in the wrong orbits. And although the orbits have been adjusted they are still very far from nominal. So these will be the first Galileo FOC satellites in their nominal orbit.
The BeiDou satellite, although very little is known about it, seems to be the first satellite of what is called the phase III in the BeiDou programme. This means that the signals of this satellite will be completely different from the previously launched BeiDou satellites. For both the B1 and B2 signals the frequency is now slightly different, i.e., bringing B1 to the same frequency as used by the GPS L1 signals and the Galileo E1 signals. The change of the B2 signal frequency makes it use the identical frequency as the Galileo E5 signal.
The GPS IIF already started to transmit its first signals and will be included in the products of the International GNSS Service very soon. When the first signals of the other two satellites may be expected is unclear. But if they come they will be much more exiting!
I am at least very much looking forward to them!