Watch SpaceX’s launch of a latest GPS satellite for the US Space Force
This afternoon, SpaceX is set to launch A new GPS satellite for the US Space Force Out of Cape Canaveral, Florida — part of an ongoing struggle by the Department of Defense to update the GPS constellation already in orbit. This satellite will replace one of the older, less powerful GPS satellites, this time in the system to maintain the total number of satellites in the space 31.
This is the third GPS satellites, this type of model to launch into orbit and SpaceX’s second start time GPS spacecraft. Called GPS III SV03, it is part of a block of satellites known as GPS III, designed and built by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin claims that, compared to older GPS spacecraft, III GPS satellites “three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability.”
The spacecraft also sports a number of new features. They can broadcast a new signal meant to help civilian and commercial users of satellites, and they are also able to communicate with other navigation satellites, such as Europe’s Galileo constellation. This way, people use GPS systems can connect with even more satellites in space. Plus, space ships tend to last longer in space than their predecessors.
Place on the force was ready to launch satellite in April, but COVID-19 pandemic forced military branch to delay the mission. There was particular concern about the staff’s ability to stay six feet while also operating the satellite during initial launch and deployment in designated Control Center at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Colorado. “We focus on people personnel process and procedures as well as facility,” Col. Edward Byrne, senior military leader of the Middle-Earth orbit space systems division at the Space Force’s space and Missile Systems Center, said during a press call. The Space Force, reduce the amount of staff needed to handle the satellite launch moved some of the terminals around, and put up proposal for additional separation.
After practicing and adapting to the new system, the Space Force is now ready to fly. In the meantime, extra precautions are also being taken at the launch site on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is expected to start. 45th Space Wing, which monitor the start out of the Cape, set up temperature checks and face coverings for its personnel. Different sets of people are assigned to separate flights so that there is no “cross-contamination” among personnel, jumping from one mission to the next.
“A number of cases has increased in Florida and Brevard County, but we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that all is safe to go,” Brig. General Doug Schiess, the 45th Space Wing Commander, said during the call. He said the 45th Space Wing oversees several start during the pandemic — in particular, the first crewed launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon that send NASA astronauts to space — and that no one in the 45th Space Wing ill has been thus far.
Takeoff is scheduled for 3:55PM ET out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SpaceX’s only a short window to launch — until 4:10PM ET. After takeoff, SpaceX will try to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a company’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Until now, there is about a 60 percent chance that weather conditions will be conducive to start, but if SpaceX can’t launch today, the company has a backup launch date on Wednesday, July 1st. SpaceX’s live coverage of the mission will start about 15 minutes before the start.
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