Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX is preparing to deploy the United States Space Force’s GPS-3, a third new-generation series Global Positioning System satellite. The mission is scheduled for June 30th, it will the first flight under the new branch of the Air Force. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 40, during a 15-minute window opening at 3:55 p.m. EDT. on Tuesday. “A backup opportunity is available on Wednesday, July 1 with a 15-minute launch window opening at 3:51 p.m. EDT,” SpaceX announced.
“Falcon 9 and GPS III Space Vehicle 03 vertical on SLC-40 ahead of tomorrow’s launch for the Space Force. The 15-minute window opens at 3:55 p.m. EDT, and weather is looking 60% favorable.”
Falcon 9 and GPS III Space Vehicle 03 vertical on SLC-40 ahead of tomorrow’s launch for the @SpaceForceDoD. The 15-minute window opens at 3:55 p.m. EDT, and weather is looking 60% favorable → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/4QfF4KtDDH— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 30, 2020
The Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron forecasts 60% favorable conditions –“…Central Florida may still see some isolated, slow-moving storms that will have gusty winds,” the squadron announced, “The primary weather concerns for both days are the Cumulus and Anvil Cloud Rules, as well as the Surface Electric Field Rule associated with afternoon convection expected west of the Spaceport, mostly towards the end and after the [launch] window.”
WATCH IT LIVE
You can watch the launch in the video below. Tuesday, June 30 at 3:55 p.m. EDT.
“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 will also be the first national security mission in which SpaceX will land 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.
“Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean,” SpaceX stated. Recovering the rocket’s first-stage booster enables the company to reuse it for future missions; It significantly reduces manufacturing and operation costs.
The GPS-3 satellite that will be deployed on Tuesday is the most powerful Global Positioning System satellite ever made. GPS-3 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, it will upgrade the United States' GPS navigation constellation of 31 satellites. The satellites send navigation signals to maps, weather apps on your phone, airplanes, road vehicles, bank ATMs, and a variety of military platforms. The Space Force created a graphic showing examples of how civilians use the GPS satellite systems on a daily basis, pictured below.
The military uses GPS for a variety of things, how often do you use GPS? pic.twitter.com/WDpGezYyi7— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) June 29, 2020
GPS-3 will aid with new civil and war-fighting capabilities. “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 approximately 1 hour and 29 minutes after liftoff. After Falcon 9 deploys it, GPS-3 will use its integrated propulsion system to reach an orbit at an altitude of about 20,200 kilometers (12,550 miles) above Earth.
The military developed GPS to meet its critical need to determine precise locations in any battlespace — on land, sea, or in the air. Find out more about how GPS is an indispensable asset to U.S. forces: https://t.co/zleCmJXqs7 #KnowYourMil pic.twitter.com/vrDRLHrVSF— Armed with Science (@ArmedwScience) June 26, 2020
Despite several operations put on hold amid the coronavirus outbreak, the GPS deployment is an essential mission for the United States to keep the country’s navigation systems upgraded. Colonel Bryne told reporters that the Space Force is taking all necessary precautions to avoid spreading coronavirus. “We did certain things such as reduce the crew size, relocated some of the terminals to allow for 6-foot separation. We put in some partitions that separated the actual mission crew from the technical support team. We added an additional entryway again to keep those teams separated,” he said.