Falcon 9

SpaceX is ready to deploy a GPS-III satellite for the U.S. Space Force tonight - Watch It Live!

SpaceX is ready to deploy a GPS-III satellite for the U.S. Space Force tonight - Watch It Live!

Featured Image Source: SpaceX

After a series of weather-related launch delays, SpaceX is ready to conduct its next mission for the United States Space Force tonight, October 2nd. The U.S. Space Force contracted SpaceX's services to launch its third new-generation series Global Positioning System satellites, GPS III. SpaceX deployed the third GPS III Space Vehicle 03 (SV03) on June 30. The company is ready to deploy the fourth satellite referred to as GPS III Space Vehicle 04 (SV04). -- "Falcon 9 and GPS III-4 vertical on Pad 40 in Florida. Tonight's 15-minute launch window opens at 9:43 p.m. EDT. Weather forecast is 70% favorable for liftoff," SpaceX announced this morning. The rocket will liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the satellite to orbit. You can watch the launch broadcast Live in the video below. 


The GPS-III SV04 satellite is built by Lockheed Martin, designed to upgrade the United States' GPS navigation constellation. "Our GPS III team is excited to be here once again. Less than 3 months ago, we successfully launched GPS III SV03. Since then, the team has successfully delivered the satellite to its final orbit, performed on-orbit testing and delivered the satellite to operations, while executing a mature satellite production line. I can’t be more proud of everyone involved in this mission,” Colonel Edward Byrne, Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division Chief stated in a press release.

The satellite will work alongside 31 operational vehicles to beam GPS signals to more than four billion users that depend on the navigation signal daily; including airplanes, road vehicles, apps on your phone, bank ATMs, even weapon systems. The satellites are designed to operate in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) at an altitude of approximately 20,200 km (12,550 miles) in six orbital planes.Each satellite circles the earth twice per day. “The launch of GPS III SV04 will continue to modernize our GPS constellation by increasing our capabilities with advanced features for both our civil and military users across the world,” Byrne said.

This new-generation satellite is designed to endure 15-years in space - 25% longer than the old generation GPS satellites currently in orbit. “The GPS III program office in partnership with our contract teammates continue to push the envelope on the capabilities they deliver to users, both civil and military around the globe," said Cordell DeLaPena, Air Force program executive officer for Space Production Corps. "Our latest GPS III satellites' nearly 70 percent digital payload provides the U.S. Space Force with greater operational flexibility and cutting edge capabilities while continuing to support legacy users,” he added.

Next year, SpaceX will also deploy the U.S. Space Force's next two GPS missions — GPS-III SV05 and GPS-III SV06. During these future missions, the aerospace company will be allowed to launch the satellites with a previously flown Falcon 9's first-stage booster for the first time. Tonight SpaceX will attempt to recover the rocket's first-stage; around 9 minutes after liftoff, the booster is expected to return from space and land on the 'Just Read The Instructions' autonomous droneship, stationed around 634-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The GPS-III SV04 satellite will be deployed around 1 hour and 29 minutes after liftoff.


Recovering the new Falcon 9 rocket used tonight will enable the company to reuse it during the next satellite mission. Rocket reusability significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight. 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 (land) the Falcon 9 rocket boosters. The original SpaceX launch contract was valued at around $96.5 million. According to Lauderdale, SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rockets will save the U.S. Space Force around $53 million in launch expenses for future GPS-III satellite deployments. - “I am proud of our partnership with SpaceX that allowed us to successfully negotiate contract modifications for the upcoming GPS III missions that will save taxpayers $52.7 million while maintaining our unprecedented record of success,” he stated.



About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

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.

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