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SpaceX successfully launches a GPS III spacecraft on behalf of the US Space Force – TechCrunch


SpaceX successfully launched a GPS III satellite for the US Space Force today. The Space Force took over US space GPS assets from the Air Force when it became its own wing dedicated to the United States Armed Forces.

The launch used a Falcon 9 rocket, the first stage of which was new and fresh from the SpaceX factory. This launch, however, included an attempt to recover the Falcon 9 booster, unlike the first launch of GPS III that SpaceX launched in December 2018. SpaceX says it was able to work with its client to ensure that it could complete its mission as expected, while keeping enough reserve fuel for a recovery attempt – which did not happen during the first launch.

This is good news for SpaceX, as it means that it will not lose this booster this time, with successful controlled burning and landing on its floating drone at sea. This booster can now be refurbished and used again for future Falcon 9 missions.

The spacecraft GPS launched on this flight includes greater capacity, better security and the potential to impact up to 4 billion users worldwide, notes the Space Force. It will enter geosynchronous orbit and work with other existing GPS III satellites in orbit, as well as with other previous generation GPS satellites operated by the United States.

SpaceX also says that its vessels, Mrs. Tree and Mrs. Chief, will attempt to recover the fairing at sea, not through catches, but by fishing them out of the water. The fairing protects the satellite during launch and during its journey through space, then falls back to Earth – where SpaceX typically tries to recover parts for later refurbishment and reuse.

The satellite deployment will take place approximately one and a half hours after launch. Therefore, even if the launch has been successful, the full status of the mission will not be determined until that time. We will update this post with the results of this maneuver.

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