A GPS satellite was carried into orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket that Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched early on Wednesday as part of a U.S. Space Force initiative to have a constellation of 32 navigation satellites in space.
The fifth Space Vehicle 6 of the so-called GPS 3 constellation, which provides location, navigation, and timing signals to military and civilian clients, was launched by the rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:24 a.m. EST.
Falcon 9 Rocket
90 minutes after launch, SpaceX announced that the GPS satellite had been successfully placed into an orbit around the middle of the Earth at a height of 2,670 miles. According to Space.com, the Earth is orbited twice daily by each satellite in the constellation.
Over the next two weeks, the satellite will gradually ascend to its operational orbit of 12,550 miles above the Earth on its own.
It is thought that a number of the satellites that SpaceX is putting into orbit will act as relays for communications with top officials and combatant commanders. The mission is starting a new chapter in the history of space exploration as the industry transitions to reusable rockets.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which raises the rocket and payload from the launch pad and flies for the first two and a half minutes, launched the fifth crew of the International Space Station into space in October.
This crew included NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, a Japanese mission specialist named Koichi Wakata, a Russian astronaut named Anna Kikina, and two astronauts from the United States.
Just under ten minutes after liftoff, the SpaceX drone ship that had been waiting off the Florida coast connected with the first stage.
SpaceX’s Second Launch For US Military
The launch on Wednesday was SpaceX’s fourth overall and second in the last three days to carry out a mission for the American military.
Four GPS 3 satellites were previously launched by SpaceX as a result of contracts signed in 2016 and 2018. The first launch took place on December 23, 2018, followed by those on June 30 and November 5, 2020, and the fourth on June 17, 2021.
Although SpaceX is creating a new rocket system that will be nearly twice as powerful as the SLS, only NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is more potent.
In anticipation of a probable orbital launch early next month, the Starship and Super Heavy Booster rocket stack are now being readied at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas.