First launch of the military satellite by Elon Musk’s after four attempts

27 December, 2018, 21:42 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • 9 rocket scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite sits on Launch Complex 40 after the launch was postponed after an abort procedure was triggered by the onboard flight computer at Cape Canaveral

The Falcon 9 rocket launcher carried an approximately $500 million Global Positioning System satellite (developed by Lockheed Martin Corp) at roughly 8:51 am (1351 GMT). The GPS III will go into medium-Earth orbit roughly one hour and 56 minutes after liftoff, according to the SpaceX press kit. The company has an additional four GPS III missions on contract, all of which will be launched on board its Falcon 9 rockets.

In the following year SpaceX won an $83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years.

The Air Force and its partner contractor Lockheed Martin will watch and test the satellite for six to nine months and then take another six to nine months examining the ground systems the spacecraft is declared operational. In 2014, the privately-owned company had sued the US Air Force after the military awarded a contract for 36 rocket launches to the United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing Aircraft and Lockheed.

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The launch of the GPS III SV01 satellite, nicknamed Vespucci in honor of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, had originally been scheduled for 6:11 a.m. California time Tuesday. Find us on Facebook too!

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

GPS III's new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other worldwide global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users. The Verge wrote the launch managed to avoid further delay due to the ongoing government showdown because funding for the Department of Defence has already been allocated for 2019. Last summer the Air Force "called up" the satellite for launch and Lockheed Martin delivered it to Florida on August 20. The last planned launch was cancelled on Saturday due to strong winds. The original launch window was 8:55 a.m.

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