On March 24, 2009, a next GPS Block IIR-M satellite was succesfully launched. This satellite carries an interesting innovative payload that is capable of sending signals on the new L5 civil frequency. It was launched successfully with a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Follow-on generations of GPS spacecraft will include an operational L5 signal to improve the accuracy and performance capabilities of the system, in particular for civil users. This new satellite, designated GPS IIR-20(M), will demonstrate this new civil signal located on the L5 frequency (1176.45MHz). The signal will comply with international radio frequency spectrum requirements.
GPS world quotes
Don DeGryse, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Navigation Systems “Working closely with our Air Force partner, and building upon the design capabilities of the IIR-M space vehicle, the team has developed an innovative, low-risk, low-cost demonstration payload that will pave the way for the new operational third civil signal. We look forward to a successful demonstration of this critical capability and setting another modernized GPS spacecraft into operations as quickly as possible.”
The original plan was to demonstrate the new L5 signals on the first Block IIF GPS satellite generation. However, the L5 frequency band was assigned to the GPS system under the condition that it would use the frequency before the end of 2009. Due to significant delays in building the new IIF generation of satellites it became impossible to launch those satellites before 2010. Therefore a special experiment was designed and implemented on this block IIR satellite.
So on this satellite the L5 signals are only an experiment and, to my understanding, the L5 experimental transmitter will only be on "occasonaly" and not permanently. Furthermore, it is unclear whether there are any receivers capable of tracking these new signals when they are transmitted. So although a very interesting innovation it is not something that will widely be used. However, if any L5 data from these satellites becomes available it will be very interesting to have a detailed look at it just as at the Giove-A and Giove-B signals.
Let us wait and see when we get the first L5 "beebs".