Elon Musk's SpaceX boosts U.S. satellite-based navigation system

Pablo Tucker
July 1, 2020

On Tuesday, the company SpaceX with the Falcon 9 rocket carried the first satellite launch for the project space forces of the United States.

According to credible sources, the Falcon 9 rocket used for this mission was launched from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The backup launch opportunity will be on Wednesday at 3:51 p.m., but the weather is expected to be only 40 percent favorable with a higher chance of rain or obscuring clouds.

GPS-III SV03 payload fairing atop Falcon 9 B1060.1
GPS-III SV03 payload fairing atop Falcon 9 B1060.1

The launch employed a Falcon 9 rocket, the first stage of which was new and fresh from SpaceX's factory floor.

A report in Space.com mentions that the launch is part of an ongoing effort by the Department of Defense to upgrade GPD satellites now in space. SpaceX says that it was able to work with its customer to ensure that it could complete its mission as planned, while retaining enough reserve fuel for a recovery attempt - something that didn't happen with the first launch.

The payload includes a 3 Global Positioning System satellite built by Lockheed Martin that will join two others that are already in orbit. Surging forward with this year's lightspeed pace of launches will help Elon Musk's commercial space startup set a new company record for the most launches in one year. The satellite was deployed in a medium Earth orbit at an altitude of about 12,550 miles.

The GPS III SV03 is part of the block of satellites known as GPS III, and is designed and built by Lockheed Martin, who promised "three times better precision and up to eight times better anti-jamming capability" compared to older generation ones.

GPS III is the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other worldwide Global Navigation Satellite Systems, like Europe's Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.

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