SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launches With New GPS Satellite for U.S. Space Force

On Thursday, June 17th, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the new U.S. Space Force GPS III SV05 satellite into orbit. This marked the 19th launch for SpaceX this year.

On a sunny day, at 12:09 p.m. EDT, the SpaceX rocket blasted off into space. About two minutes into the flight, the vehicle reached orbit, and the GPS III SV05 navigation satellite was deployed. Following stage separation, SpaceX successfully landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, located in the Atlantic Ocean.

The mission lasted in total nine minutes, and it was broadcast live on SpaceX’s Youtube and Twitter accounts. This new satellite, built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Space Force, is the fifth to join a new GPS satellite constellation expected to deliver three times more accuracy and up to eight times more anti-jam protection.

It also includes a new L1C civil signal, which will allow for more civil user connectivity in the future. That means people will have a greater, more accurate signal. The constellation currently consists of roughly 31 GPS satellites, the oldest of which dates back to the late 1990s. Despite having a 7.5-year lifespan, they actually operate as we speak.

The newly-launched satellite was also purposefully designed with a modular design, allowing for the addition of new technology and capabilities. The Space Force awarded Lockheed Martin with a contract for ten next-generation GPS III satellites, followed by a contract for up to 22 GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites (a fleet of more advanced satellites).

Following the launch of a Sirius XM digital radio satellite on June 6th, the GPS III SV05 satellite mission is SpaceX’s second launch of the month.

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