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US Air Force’s most powerful GPS satellite launched

26 December 2018
US Air Force’s most powerful GPS satellite launched

One of the launch dates was scheduled on Saturday.

The mission, dubbed SSO-A, or "SmallSat Express", set a US launch record for most satellites put into space at a single time. However, he added that future GPS III missions may feature attempts to recover the first stage, depending on flight results from Sunday's mission.

Elon Musk's SpaceX capped a record-setting year on Sunday when it launched a rocket carrying a new GPS III satellite for the US Air Force, after delaying the mission several times because of a technical issue involving its rocket sensors and bad weather.

A Space X Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched in the U.S. this afternoon, after four successive failed attempts to carry out the company's first national security space mission.

The mission was SpaceX's first national security mission.

The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4 at the air force base at 10:34 a.m. PST (1834 GMT).

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million Global Positioning System satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. ET.

This newest generation of GPS satellites is designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation, and timing information.

The GPS III satellite is a next-generation version satellite that will significantly aid the US Air Force in more precise geolocation services. It dropped the lawsuit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open up competition.

It is the first in a series, nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres.

The launch was also SpaceX's 21st and final launch of the year, the company said.

The launch would be the first of 32 satellites in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined United States dollars 12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program, Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said.

According to Eschenfelder, the next GPS III satellite is set to launch in mid-2019 and additional satellites will be tested at Lockheed's processing facility in Colorado.