Elon Musk's SpaceX launched its first national security charge for the US government (specifically the Air Force) on Sunday, delivering a $ 711 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin into orbit of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 am ET. The Guardian reported.
The launch itself has been postponed several times over the past week – including once when the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket showed unexpected sensor readings and twice in bad weather, according to Space.com. The Verge wrote the launch was able to avoid further delays due to the ongoing government confrontation because funding for the Department of Defense has already been allocated for 2019.
FINAL LAUNCH: SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket, marking its final launch of the year, carrying a navigation satellite for the US Air Force. The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was delayed due to technical concerns and weather conditions. https://t.co/U3WIedOn71 pic.twitter.com/vQaIRKb5kF
– World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) December 23, 2018
Successful implementation of GPS III SV01 for confirmed average terrestrial orbit. pic.twitter.com/4lhJpwdsip
– SpaceX (@ SpaceZ) December 23, 2018
The SpaceX GPS III SpaceX released on Sunday (Vespucci) is a next-generation version that will help provide significantly more accurate geolocation services, though Border wrote, the Air Force is still working on the ground systems needed to operate it:
SpaceX's payload is the GPS III SV01, the first of 10 updated GPS III satellites that the Air Force plans to launch. It should join the current Air Force GPS constellation already in orbit, and when the new system is fully operational it is expected to be three times more accurate than the GPS we use now. That will not happen for a few years, as the Air Force is still working on the ground control system needed to control the next generation of navigation.
The GPS III satellite will also feature a stronger transmitter as part of efforts to prevent signal blocking.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 in question did not attempt the landing again because the payload was too heavy and too high in orbit for the rocket to meet the performance requirements in its reusable configuration.
"There simply was not a reserve of performance to meet our requirements and allow this mission to bring the first stage back," said Walter Lauderdale, mission director of the Air Force's Systems and Space Systems Launch Center for Corporate Systems SMC). this month, according to Space.com. However, he added that future missions of the GPS III may show attempts to regain the first stage depending on the results of the Sunday mission flights.
According to The Guardian, Lockheed is producing a total of 32 GPS III satellites for the Air Force in a contract worth $ 18 billion – with this launch originally scheduled for 2014. The next will be released in the middle of next year .[The Guardian]