SpaceX successfully launches next version GPS satellite for U.S. airforce. The next generation “GPS III” satellite finally soared into space on Sunday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. ET, according to a report.
GPS navigation, designed by Lockheed Martin, is the first U.S. national security space mission. The GPS III satellite, known as GPS 3 SV01 and nicknamed “Vespucci, will feature higher-power positioning, timing signals, and navigation around the world. It also offers military and civilian users with more accurate geolocation services. The satellite provides improved services and longer lifetimes.
The 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket finally lifted off on Dec. 23 after multiple delays over the last five day. SpaceX’s launch team, around 35 minutes before launch, approved the super-chilled kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants loading into the rocket.
Initially, the launch was scheduled to occur on Dec. 18, but due to an “out of family” signals from sensors as well as a bad weather report, the launch delayed by three days.
Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and program executive officer of the Air Force’s for space said,“ Launch is always a monumental event, and especially so since this is the first GPS satellite of its generation launched on SpaceX’s first national security space mission.” Thompson added, “As more GPS 3 satellites join the constellation, it will bring better service at a lower cost to a technology that is now fully woven into the fabric of any modern civilization.
The new GPS satellite has been placed in an orbit ranges between 740 miles (1,191 kilometers) and 12,550 miles (20,198 kilometers) above Earth. The Vespucci will provide PNT information three times more accurate than that of current GPS, according to Air Force authorities.