It took five tries, working with technical issues, severe weather, and even the pressure of a visit to the vice presidency until a SpaceX rocket swept across the sky toward space on Sunday.
The company's first national security release presented some challenges this week as SpaceX handled a myriad of issues as it attempted to launch a large Air Force GPS satellite on the Cape Canaveral 40 Air Force Station launch pad.
SpaceX was slated to be released on Tuesday, while Vice President Mike Pence watched from the Kennedy Space Center. But a problem detected by the first stage sensors of the Falcon 9 rocket eliminated the launch. It was again cleaned Wednesday, with the teams taking more time to investigate the problem.
And Thursday, severe weather and a tornado stopped the launch. Despite the best weather on Saturday, high-level winds still hindered the path, causing yet another fight.
Pence waved off the bushes Tuesday, saying it is not his "first rodeo" in a launch and emphasizing that safety is the top priority. The vice president was in Florida to announce that President Donald Trump had ordered the creation of a Space Command, a unified combatant command to provide control of all military space operations. The administration is also moving ahead with plans to develop a new independent branch of the military, called Space Force.
Military operations were also at the center of Sunday's launch. The high-profile orbiting payload of the Earth, 10,900 nautical miles above the planet, was the Air Force's GPS III, the first of a new generation of GPS satellites.
The satellite is one of a series of 10 third-generation satellites commissioned by the Air Force, with three times better accuracy, eight times as much anti-jamming capacity, 25% longer service life and the ability to transmit signals compatible with other international navigation. systems, including Galileo Europe.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellite could eventually be one of 32 satellites the Air Force can order over the next few years to modernize its current satellite constellation.