SpaceX caps record 2018 with launch of Global Positioning System satellite

Dec 27, 2018, 01:30
SpaceX caps record 2018 with launch of Global Positioning System satellite

Hawthorne-based SpaceX Sunday successfully launched a U.S. Air Force GPS satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral in Florida, after postponing several planned launches over the past few days due to weather and other issues.

WASHINGTON-SpaceX launched a new breed of Global Positioning System satellite for the United States Military on Sunday, marking the private space company's first contracted mission for the country's national security.

"The most important thing is that we get that rocket up safely and securely and it achieves its mission", said US Vice President Mike Pence, also Chairman of the US National Space Council. Mission requirements meant that SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage after launch on this occasion. The GPS III went into medium Earth orbit roughly 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff, according to the SpaceX press kit.

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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.

In September, the Air Force selected Lockheed Martin for the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program, an estimated $7.2 billion opportunity to build up to 22 additional GPS IIIF satellites with additional capabilities.

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.

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This newest generation of GPS satellites is designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation, and timing information. Sunday's successful launch was preceded by the cancellation of four previous scheduled launches that were scheduled last week, including the one on Saturday.

Sunday's launch was Space X's 21st and final launch of the year, a company record. The original launch window was 8:55 a.m.

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