A rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral yesterday, marking the space transportation company's first national security space mission for the US. SpaceX usually attempts to land Falcon 9 first stages shortly after liftoff for future reuse, but not today.
This mission is the final one of 2018 for Elon Musk's SpaceX and the company's 21st launch of the year, which breaks its 2017 record. "I'm proud of my team and look forward to our additional National Security Space missions with SpaceX". 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.
"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. Basically, this is because the Global Positioning System satellite was loaded with more fuel than usual, increasing the load on the Falcon 9 and requiring more first stage performance.
Air Force and Lockheed Martin engineers are controlling GPS III SV01's launch and checkout test using elements of the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 0. The satellite provides improved services and longer lifetimes.
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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 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.
The next satellite is due to launch in mid-2019. It's the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres. The original launch window was 8:55 a.m.