A SpaceX rocket carrying a US military navigation satellite departed Cape Canaveral, Fla., On Sunday, marking the space shuttle's first national space shuttle mission to the United States.
The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying an approximately $ 500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin, took off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. The launch was rescheduled earlier in the week because of the weather.
The success of the launch is a significant victory for rocket company Elon Musk, who has spent years trying to enter the lucrative market for military space launches dominated by Lockheed and Boeing.
This next generation GPS satellite is three times more accurate than previous versions and eight times better in anti-interference, said Heather Wilson, Air Force secretary. It is the first of a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the fifteenth-century Italian explorer who calculated the circumference of the Earth in a radius of 80 kilometers.
Legal battles, delays
SpaceX sued the US Air Force in 2014 due to the military concession of a multi-billion dollar non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to the United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed. He dropped the suit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open the competition.
The following year, SpaceX won an Air Force contract of $ 83 million to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a 15-year lifespan.
The satellite is the first to launch 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth $ 12.6 billion
the Air Force's GPS III program, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.
The launch was originally scheduled for 2014, but was hampered by delays in production, the Air Force said.
The next GPS III satellite is expected to be launched in mid-2019, according to Eschenfelder, while subsequent satellites undergo testing at the company's processing facility in Colorado.