SpaceX Finally Launches GPS Satellite For USAF

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sitting on Launch Complex 40 after its launch was postponed at Cape Canaveral Florida on Dec 18 2018

The GPS III satellite is a next-generation version satellite that will significantly aid the US Air Force in more precise geolocation services.

SpaceX sued the US Air Force in 2014 over the military's award of a multi-billion-dollar non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed.

The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4 at the air force base at 10:34 a.m. PST (1834 GMT).

"This is the Air Force's first GPS III, so we are excited to begin on-orbit test and demonstrate its capabilities", Caldwell said. The GPS III satellite, known as GPS 3 SV01 and nicknamed "Vespucci, will feature higher-power positioning, timing signals, and navigation around the world".

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Lockheed Martin developed GPS III and manufactured GPS III SV01 at its advanced $128-million GPS III Processing Facility near Denver.

SpaceX has completed 21 launches in this year, which is more than the 18 launches last year, in what's been a banner year for the company. 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.

The next launch attempt will be on Sunday at 8:51 a.m. EST/ 13:51 UTC, according to Space X officials. In August, the Air Force declared the second GPS III "AFL" and, in November, called GPS III SV02 up for a 2019 launch. GPS IIIF builds off Lockheed Martin's existing modular GPS III, which was created to evolve with new technology and changing mission needs.

The GPS III satellite, which has a lifespan of 15 years, is the first of 32 to be built by Lockheed in contracts worth a combined $12.6bn from the US Air Force. The Vespucci will provide PNT information three times more accurate than that of current Global Positioning System, according to Air Force authorities. The vice president was in Florida to announce that President Donald Trump had ordered the, a unified combatant command to provide control of all military space operations.

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