SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS satellite yet

SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS satellite yet

SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS satellite yet

Previous four scheduled launches for this same mission in the last week, including one on Saturday, were canceled because of weather and technical issues.

It would have marked SpaceX's first so-called National Security Space mission, as defined by the US military, SpaceX said.

Although there wasn't enough propellant for a landing, the rocket's first stage was successful with the single engine powering the Falcon 9's second stage ignited as planned.

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The company's first national security launch posed some challenges this week as SpaceX dealt with a multitude of issues while trying to launch a major Global Positioning System satellite for the Air Force from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch pad 40.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8.51am local time carrying the Lockheed Martin-built satellite. This marks the US-based aerospace company's first USA national security mission to date.

The satellite is one in a series of 10 third-generation satellites ordered by the Air Force with three times better accuracy, eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, 25 percent longer spacecraft lifespan and the capability to broadcast signals compatible with other worldwide global navigation systems, including Europe's Galileo.

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The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said. It dropped the lawsuit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open up competition.

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday, hoisting the satellite into orbit. It's the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres.

SpaceX has had a record-breaking 20 launches this year.

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The next year, SpaceX won an $83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years.

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