SpaceX launches first GPS 3 satellite

MT LAUREL, New Jersey — SpaceX launched the U.S. Air Pressure’s latest GPS satellite tv for pc Dec. 23 on a Falcon 9 rocket, finishing the corporate’s twenty first and remaining launch of the 12 months.

The rocket lifted off at 8:51 a.m. Japanese from Cape Canaveral, Florida, following technical and weather-related delays that pushed the mission out 5 days. Its payload, the primary GPS 3 satellite tv for pc from Lockheed Martin, separated from the rocket one hour and 59 minutes later.

The launch was a double milestone for SpaceX, setting a brand new file over final 12 months’s 18 launches, and fulfilling the corporate’s first protection mission competed by way of the Air Pressure’s Developed Expendable Launch Car program.

SpaceX’s file annual efficiency, which included the first-ever launch of a Falcon Heavy, was nonetheless wanting the corporate’s preliminary forecast of 30 to 40 launches. SpaceX has elevated its launch cadence quickly, up from eight missions in 2016 and 6 in 2015 (Falcon 9 failures in each these years restricted launch charges).

SpaceX has launched different nationwide safety missions, such because the Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace’s categorized NROL-76 satellite tv for pc and the Air Pressure’s X-37B uncrewed spaceplane, each in 2017. The Air Pressure has chosen SpaceX to launch one other 4 GPS 3 satellites along with right now’s mission.

SpaceX didn’t recuperate the Falcon 9 first stage, having devoted gasoline that will have been used to land the booster as an alternative to mission necessities for lofting the 4,400-kilogram satellite tv for pc right into a extremely elliptical orbit. From there the satellite tv for pc will circularize right into a medium Earth orbit, becoming a member of the U.S.’s GPS constellation of 31 older satellites delivering positioning, navigation, and timing companies to greater than 4 billion customers.

The brand new GPS 3 satellite tv for pc replaces an growing older GPS 2R spacecraft launched in 1997.

Lockheed Martin is constructing the primary 10 GPS 3 satellites by way of contracts awarded in 2008 and 2016. This September the Air Pressure chosen Lockheed Martin to construct as much as 22 extra GPS 3 satellites after reopening this system to competitors amid schedule delays and price overruns.

The GPS 3 program is greater than 4 years behind its unique schedule for a primary launch.

Lockheed Martin stated it has addressed the issues that beset the primary few satellites, however the firm was aided in successful the extra GPS 3 builds by the absence of Boeing and Northrop Grumman — two anticipated contenders that finally selected to not bid within the Air Pressure’s recompete.

GPS 3 broadcasts a stronger sign to counter digital jamming. It will likely be the primary GPS satellite tv for pc to broadcast 4 civil alerts, and the primary to do launch and management checkout with the Air Pressure’s new floor management system: OCX Block 0.

As a result of it’s the primary of its sort, the checkout of the brand new satellite tv for pc might take from six to 9 months. On orbit checkout will start about 10 days from launch. As soon as it’s declared operational, about six to 9 extra months of checks are deliberate to combine the brand new satellite tv for pc into the constellation.

Lockheed Martin has manufactured 18 of the 31 GPS satellites at the moment in operation. The primary GPS 3 car is estimated to value $529 million. It was nicknamed “Vespucci” after the Italian explorer.

The GPS 3 satellites Lockheed Martin is constructing are designed to function for a minimum of 15 years. The Air Pressure intends to launch the second GPS 3 satellite tv for pc subsequent 12 months.

table4 Workers Author Sandra Erwin contributed to this text.

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