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China Launches First of Next-Gen BeiDou Satellites

March 30, 2015  - By
Beidou-3M1-3 Photo: BeiDou

Photo: BeiDou

UPDATE (3/31/15): The BeiDou satellite is being targeted for an IGSO orbit, not a MEO orbit as previously speculated. The two images below make this clear.


Photo: BeiDou


Photo: BeiDou

Below is a CCTV (China Central Television) news story covering the launch.

UPDATE (3/30/15): China’s launch of BeiDou-3 M1 is now being reported in that country’s media. The launch occurred at 21:52 on March 30. BeiDou-3 M1 is the first of 17 next-generation Beidou navigation satellites. It will have a new navigation signal system with inter-satellite links and other tests to verify the satellite navigation system.

NASA Spaceflight is reporting that China is believed to have launched the first of a new generation of navigation satellites for its BeiDou constellation. However, the launch has received a blackout in China, with lift-off only confirmed by local observers.

The possible launch of BeiDou-3 M1 took place at 13:52 UTC today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on a Chinese Long March 3C rocket, with the debut use of the new Expedition-1 (Yuanzheng-1) upper stage.

If confirmed, this is the fifth successful launch of a navigation satellite in less than a week, following GPS IIF-9 on WednesdayGalileo 7 and 8 on Friday and India’s IRNSS-1D on Saturday.

Today’s launch involved a new series of satellites that is expected to mark an advancement in the completion of its Beidou Phase III program several years ahead of schedule, by as soon as 2017 rather than 2020, NASA Spaceflight reports.

The Beidou Phase III system includes the migration of its civil Beidou 1 or B1 signal from 1561.098 MHz to a frequency centered at 1575.42 MHz – the same as the GPS L1 and Galileo E1 civil signals — and its transformation from a quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulation to a multiplexed binary offset carrier (MBOC) modulation similar to the future GPS L1C and Galileo’s E1. The current (Phase II) B1 open service signal uses QPSK modulation with 4.092 megahertz bandwidth centered at 1561.098 MHz.

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