According to a report from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, transmissions of the L1/E1 signal from the recently launched Galileo satellite IOV-3 (FM-3) started at about 13:55:20 GPS Time December 1. Transmissions from IOV-3 of the E5 signal began December 2. By December 4, all three Galileo bands, including E6, were being broadcast, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
Several stations of the Cooperative Network for GNSS Observation as well as some stations participating in the International GNSS Service’s Multi-GNSS Experiment are tracking IOV-3. The satellite is using PRN code E19.
The Galileo In-orbit Validation (IOV) satellites were launched on October 12 (Flight Model 3 and 4). Now that FM3’s payload has been activated, FM4 is set to begin transmitting test navigation signals later this month. The first two satellites have already passed their in-orbit testing.
Galileo is designed to provide highly accurate timing and navigation services to users around the world, ESA said, so the testing is being carried out in addition to the standard satellite commissioning to confirm that the critical navigation payloads have not been degraded by the violence of launch.
While the satellites are run from Galileo’s Oberpfaffenhofen Control Centre near Munich in Germany and their navigation payloads are overseen from Galileo’s Mission Control Centre in Fucino, Italy, a separate site is used for the in-orbit testing. Located in the heart of Belgium’s Ardennes forest, Redu is specially equipped for Galileo testing, with a 15-m diameter S-band antenna to upload commands and receive telemetry from the satellite, and a 20-m diameter L-band dish to monitor the shape and quality of navigation signals at high resolution.
“This marked the very first time that a Galileo payload was activated directly from ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium,” explained Marco Falcone, overseeing the campaign effort as Galileo’s System Manager. “We have now established an end-to-end setup in Redu that allows us to upload commands generated from Fucino’s Galileo Control Centre to the satellite payload whenever the satellite passes over the station, while at the same time directly receiving the resulting navigation signal through its main L-band antenna.
“The result is our operations are much more effective, shortening the time needed for payload in orbit testing.”
Operating at an altitude of 23,222 km, the Galileo satellites take about 14 hours to orbit Earth, typically coming into view of Redu for between three to nine hours each day.