CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. — SpaceX has launched a GPS satellite for the U.S. military for the first of what will likely be more U.S. Space Force missions for the private space company.
What You Need To Know
- SpaceX rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
- Falcon 9 rocket is carrying GPS satellite for US military
- Launch marks 1st Space Force mission for SpaceX
- WATCH: ▼ Jump to SpaceX broadcast below ▼
On board the rocket was the third Lockheed Martin-built GPS III Space Vehicle 03 satellite. Its navigation system is built by Melbourne, Florida-based L3Harris Technologies. The satellite will be used for navigation, search-and-rescue, and will be available for commercial and civilian use.
Once above Earth, GPS III will join the two previous satellites that launched in 2018. Eventually, there will be a constellation of 32 of the satellites in orbit.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off right at the end of the launch window at 4:10 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40.
One upgrade on this Falcon 9 was a gray thermal layer designed to keep kerosene fuel at a steady temperature while the second stage does another engine burn to guide the satellite to the proper orbit.
The rocket's first-stage booster nailed its landing on the company's drone ship hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. Ships were also dispatched to recover the two fairings that protect the satellite on top of the rocket.
The rocket will be used on future launches.
The launch comes days after SpaceX postponed a Falcon 9 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center that would have sent another batch of Starlink satellites into orbit. That mission is now the next launch from Florida's Space Coast, rescheduled for noon Wednesday, July 8.