Watch SpaceX and U.S. Space Force Launch a GPS Satellite

Jennifer Leman
Photo credit: NurPhoto - Getty Images

From Popular Mechanics

A shiny, new SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is slated to launch a U.S. Space Force satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida today. The new and improved GPS 3 SV03 navigation satellite is set to replace an aging satellite currently in orbit. It is time that SpaceX and the U.S. Space Force have partnered on a launch.

The launch was delayed for more than a month due to the spread of COVID-19. Today's launch, scheduled for 3:55 p.m. EDT, has a relatively short window—about 15 minutes. As of this morning, weather conditions for the launch were about 60 percent favorable, with a chance of scattered showers. If the launch is delayed due to weather, SpaceX will aim for tomorrow. A live stream of the launch will begin 20 minutes before blast off.

The new GPS 3 satellites, which were designed and developed by Lockheed Martin, are rough and tumble. They have anti-jamming technology and are able to communicate with other GPS satellites so that both civilian and commercial users can get more bang for their navigational buck. They have a powerful signal and Lockheed Martin claims they are three times more accurate than their predecessor.

Today's launch also marks the third time this type of satellite has been sent into orbit. The first GPS 3 satellite blasted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2018 and another satellite soared to orbit aboard United Launch Alliance's last Delta IV medium last year. Today's GPS 3 SV03 will join 31 other GPS satellites across six planes in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), at an altitude of approximately 12,550 miles above our planet, according to the press statement.

Shortly after lift-off, SpaceX will attempt to land the new Falcon 9 on its "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship.

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