SpaceX Launches US Military GPS Satellite After Several Delays

26 December, 2018, 13:39 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • SpaceX successfully launches satellite for 1st national security mission

Two hours later, SpaceX published an update on Twitter and confirmed that the GPS III SV01 satellite was successfully deployed to medium Earth orbit.

The satellite is one in a series of 10 third-generation satellites ordered by the Air Force with three times better accuracy, eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, 25 percent longer spacecraft lifespan and the capability to broadcast signals compatible with other worldwide global navigation systems, including Europe's Galileo. In April 2016, SpaceX was awarded the first National Security Space mission and it has four other GPS III missions on contract.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million Global Positioning System satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. local time.

The mission was SpaceX's first national security mission.

It was SpaceX's fifth attempt following technical and weather delays. The rocket flew in an expendable configuration, without any landing legs, at the request of SpaceX's customer, the US Air Force.

Conditions are about 95 percent "go" for launch Sunday, according to 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County.

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The solar-powered Vespucci will provide a number of advantages over the old-guard satellites, Air Force officials said.

The satellite is the first of 10 built by Lockheed Martin and has major improvements including a redesigned Nuclear Detonation Detection System and a search-and-rescue payload.

Built by, the satellite could eventually be one of as many as 32 satellites that the Air Force may order over the coming years to modernize its current satellite constellation.

The next satellite is due to launch in mid-2019.

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 last planned launch was cancelled on Saturday due to strong winds.

It was SpaceX's 21st and final launch of the year, a company record.

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