Sunday, 20 January, 2019


SpaceX Launches US Military GPS Satellite After Several Delays

SpaceX to reattempt launch of first US national security space mission SpaceX blasts off powerful GPS satellite for US military
Kristine Garrett | 27 December, 2018, 03:16

Early Sunday morning, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared through the sky from its home in Cape Canaveral carrying a new GPS III satellite for the U.S. Air Force as its first national security mission. This victory is even more special for SpaceX considering that it had dragged the U.S. Air Force to court in 2014, after it awarded the multibillion-dollar contract of 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance - a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed.

SpaceX announced the news on its Twitter account, where it said, "All systems and weather are go for today's Falcon 9 launch of the GPS III SV01 satellite".

The US Air Force monitors the location of the launch known as the 45th Space Wing, helping to set up road blocks and clear relevant air space.

Following stage separation, the first stage of the rocket successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean, about 10 minutes after liftoff. Sunday's launch was SpaceX's 21st of the year (via TicToc by Bloomberg).

GPS III SV01 is the first of an entirely new, next generation GPS satellite created to modernize the GPS constellation. Another launch was scheduled for Saturday and Thursday, however, strong winds and thunderstorms halted both lift-off attempts. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than any of the Global Positioning System satellites on-orbit today.

SpaceX said that the GPS III, "is designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation, and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved antijamming capability".

Mr. Caldwell added: "By this time next year, we expect to also have a second GPS III on orbit and users should be receiving signals from this first satellite".

This morning's launch was originally scheduled to occur on Tuesday (Dec. 18), but SpaceX called off that attempt after receiving an "out of family" reading from sensors on the Falcon 9's first stage.

The launch would be the first of 32 satellites in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III programme, Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said.

The following GPS III satellite is because of dispatch in mid-2019, Eschenfelder stated, while consequent satellites experience testing in the organization's Colorado preparing office.

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