Elon Musk's SpaceX Conducts first Mission for US Military

Clark Diaz
December 27, 2018

Delayed several times due to technical issues with sensors and stormy weather, the 229-foot-tall rocket lifted off at 8:51 a.m. ET, climbing straight away from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, reported CBS News.

Elon Musk-led SpaceX had won the National Security Space (NSS) contract with the Air Force in 2016 and intends to launch an additional four GPS III missions on Falcon 9, which is a two-stage rocket manufactured by the company.

Billionaire Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has successfully launched and deployed a powerful next-generation Global Positioning System navigation satellite into orbit - making it the company's first-ever USA government-sanctioned national security space mission. The GPS III went into medium Earth orbit roughly 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff, according to the SpaceX press kit. This is planned that very next year there will be the launch of the spacecraft with GPS III which has a lifespan of more than 15 years.

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Due to mission requirements, SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage after launch.

Vespucci's nickname honors Italian cartographer and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, after whom North and South America were named.

ULA has flown eight missions in 2018, and a ninth is scheduled for no earlier than 30 December from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.

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The satellite is the first of 10 built by Lockheed Martin and has major improvements including a redesigned Nuclear Detonation Detection System and a search-and-rescue payload.

This mission is the final one of 2018 for Elon Musk's SpaceX and the company's 21st launch of the year, which breaks its 2017 record.

Mr. Caldwell added: "By this time next year, we expect to also have a second GPS III on orbit and users should be receiving signals from this first satellite". GPS IIIF builds off Lockheed Martin's existing modular GPS III, which was created to evolve with new technology and changing mission needs.

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