Featured Image Source: SpaceX / Space Force
SpaceX successfully deployed the United States Space Force’s GPS-3 space vehicle, a third new-generation series Global Positioning System satellite, referred to as GPS III SV03. Today’s joint mission between SpaceX and the military was dedicated to U.S. Air Force Colonel Thomas Falzarano, who recently passed away. – “Similarly to GPS-III, Col. Thomas Falzarano, Commander of Peterson Air Force Base, served as a guiding force for Airmen across the U.S. Air Force & Space Force. In May, Col. Falzarano passed away unexpectedly. To honor his service & sacrifice, today's launch was dedicated in his memory,” the 45th Space Wing stated. General Jay Raymond added – “A fitting tribute to a Space Force friend and teammate. Congrats SpaceX, 45th Space Wing…on the successful launch of GPS-III!”
The mission is the first operating under the newest branch of the military. U.S Space Force was established by President Donald Trump in December 2019, and is overseen by the Air Force. -“This is our first U.S. Space Force launch and we’re really excited about it and hope that this is the first of many, many of those launches in the future,” SpaceX’s Vice President of customer operations and integrations Lee Rosen told reporters. It was also the first national security mission in which SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s booster after deploying a military satellite. During a press conference on June 26, the Space Force’s Chief of Space Missile Center's Launch Enterprise Falcon Division, Walter Lauderdale, shared SpaceX took off “several million dollars” off the total price of the launch as a tradeoff to recover the Falcon 9 rocket booster.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/E2xaQQNw1w— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 30, 2020
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 40 at around 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time. It propelled the second-stage into low Earth orbit; About 9 minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s first-stage booster conducted a vertical landing on the Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) autonomous drone ship situated in the Atlantic Ocean. Recovering the rocket’s first-stage booster enables the company to reuse it on future missions. The successful recovery marked SpaceX's 56th orbital-class rocket landing.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship! pic.twitter.com/5zYhTFDUsM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 30, 2020
The GPS-3 satellite was deployed approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes after liftoff. GPS-3 is the most powerful Global Positioning System satellite ever made. This particular satellite deployed is the third GPS-3 type satellite in orbit, it will operate alongside the United States' GPS navigation constellation of 31 satellites and replace the oldest one. The satellites send navigation signals to a variety of military platforms, and it is used by civilians daily. GPS signals from the constellation beam data to maps, weather apps, airplanes, road vehicles, bank ATMs, etc. “The GPS program has set new standards of resilience and stability to respond to this crisis by successfully delivering the next third-generation GPS satellites to over four million military and civilian users around the world,” Colonel Edward Bryne, the senior materiel leader in Space and Missile Systems Center’s medium Earth orbit space systems division, stated. The GPS-3 satellite will be deployed into an elliptical transfer orbit. The vehicle is expected to use its integrated propulsion system to reach an orbit at an altitude of about 20,200 kilometers (12,550 miles) above Earth.
Deployment of GPS III Space Vehicle 03 confirmed pic.twitter.com/zYOeJj0xFX— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 30, 2020
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About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.