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SpaceX Launches US Military GPS Satellite After Several Delays

27 December 2018, 03:16 | Ross Houston

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After a week of delayed launch attempts, SpaceX finally completed its first US national security space mission.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a military navigation satellite, constructed by Lockheed Martin Corporation, was launched Sunday from Florida's Cape Canaveral.

The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. It's meant to join the Air Force's current GPS constellation already in orbit, and when the new system becomes fully operational, it's expected to be three times more accurate than the GPS we use now. Very unlike SpaceX, the company did not attempt to recover the first stage booster after separation due to "mission requirements".

The launch is a landmark for SpaceX to make a presence in the lucrative military space launch market. "I'm proud of my team and look forward to our additional National Security Space missions with SpaceX". The rocket flew in an expendable configuration, without any landing legs, at the request of SpaceX's customer, the US Air Force.

The dispatch was initially booked for 2014 however has been limped by generation delays, the Air Force said.

The GPS constellation provides precise positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) information to a variety of users, from soldiers in the field to drivers trying to find the best route through rush-hour traffic.

The Falcon 9 carried to orbit 64 spacecraft, in particular 15 Micro satellites and 49 cubesats, for 35 customers from 17 countries. The SUV-size Vespucci, which weighed 9,700 lbs. It is set to undertake another 4 GPS III missions.

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Want more space news? You have arrived at a new era for the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The next GPS III satellite is due to launch in mid-2019, Mr Eschenfelder said, while subsequent satellites undergo testing in the company's Colorado processing facility.

Lockheed Martin is building the new satellites outside Denver. The Air Force nicknamed the satellite "Vespucci" after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

The next launch attempt will be on Sunday at 8:51 a.m. EST/ 13:51 UTC, according to Space X officials.

And again on Thursday, when severe weather and a tornado watch halted the launch.

This launch is SpaceX's final of the year, marking a record-number of annual launches for the company.



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