SpaceX caps record 2018 with launch of Global Positioning System satellite

Muriel Hammond
December 27, 2018

SpaceX has launched payloads for the USA military before, but Vespucci is the company's first official "National Security Space" mission - a designation reserved for liftoffs deemed critical to national defense. These scheduled launches got canceled either due to bad weather or technical issues.

SpaceX usually attempts to land Falcon 9 first stages shortly after liftoff for future reuse, but that didn't happen today.

GPS III SV01 is the first of an entirely new, next generation GPS satellite created to modernize the GPS constellation.

The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately one hour and 56 minutes after lift-off.

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. It's the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 50 miles (80 kilometers).

SpaceX is already under contract to launch four more GPS III missions.

ULA has flown eight missions in 2018, and a ninth is scheduled for no earlier than 30 December from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.

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. Instead of just following the traditional one-and-done model of rocket launches, SpaceX launches and then re-launches its rockets to make spaceflight cheaper for all.

Lockheed Martin is building the new satellites outside Denver.

The satellite is the first to jump start out of 32 underway by Lockheed under contracts worth a consolidated $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program, as indicated by Lockheed representative Chip Eschenfelder. (4,400 kilograms) at launch, won't push that number up; it will replace a Global Positioning System craft known as SVN-43, which launched in July 1997.

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