CAPE CANNOT BE MINING, Fla. – SpaceX is set to launch the upgraded Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite to orbit for the US Space Force today (November 5) and you can watch the action online.
Flight – 20th launch this year for SpaceX and its horse Falcon 9 rocket – is scheduled to explode from the 40th Space Launch Complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here during the 15 minutes opening time at 6:24 pm EST (2324 GMT). Placed on top of the missile is GPS III-SV04, built by Lockheed Martin.
You can Watch the premiere live here and on the Space.com homepage, with permission from SpaceX, starting about 15 minutes before the plane takes off. You will also be able to Watch the launch from SpaceX live here.
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Today’s launch could be the second in two days from the Space Coast. On Wednesday evening (November 4), the United Launch Alliance (ULA) was scheduled to ship a reconnaissance satellite to the US National Reconnaissance Office on top of an Atlas V rocket. Unfortunately, problems with the cushion’s liquid oxygen fuel lines hampered that effort. ULA is currently troubleshooting and may launch the spy satellite as early as Friday (November 6).
Today’s GPS III-SV04 mission has also been delayed. The mission was almost complete on October 2, but Falcon 9’s onboard computer discovered the problem and the attempt was canceled with the countdown to a few seconds. SpaceX fixed the problem, eventually replacing two of the nine Merlin engines in the early stages of the Falcon 9.
If everything goes according to plan today, it will be the fourth satellite launch of the upgraded next-generation GPS III satellite to date. Launched for the first and third time on a Falcon 9 rocket, in December 2018 and on June 30 this year. Second GPS III satellite launch on top the last ULA Delta IV medium-range missile in August 2019. SpaceX has also secured several subsequent launches following this launch as the military undertakes to upgrade its old network.
Built by Lockheed Martin In Colorado, these upgraded GPS satellites are among the most sophisticated spacecraft ever built. A Lockheed Martin representative said they boast eight times more anti-interference than previous iterations and are equipped with stronger signals for increased accuracy.
Today’s launch features the fourth in a series of 10 upgraded GPS III satellites for the military that will join the group of satellites that are already in orbit. They will help provide location, navigation and timing services to more than four billion users worldwide. GPS III-SV04 will replace an old predecessor that was released 20 years ago.
In September, Space Force officials announced that the US military had granted SpaceX allows the launch of national security payloads on previously flown missiles. This news follows another recent decision to allow SpaceX to reinstate the early stages of Falcon 9 used for national security missions, which was not previously authorized.
SpaceX will launch the next two GPS missions – GPS III-SV05 and GPS III-SV06 – on the first leg of the veteran Falcon 9 next year. The rockets flying on those two missions will then also land back on Earth once their work is done.
Today’s mission star, however, will be the first leg of the all-new Falcon 9, dubbed B1062, to SpaceX. It’s rare to see a shiny new Falcon flying on top of a launch pad these days, as the company relies on its fleet of veteran pilots to do the bulk of its missions.
Related: See the development of the SpaceX rocket in pictures
Today’s flight will mark the 97th launch of the Falcon 9 missile and the 64th stage restoration. The SpaceX “Of Course I Still Love You” drone is set in the Atlantic Ocean, awaiting planned restoration efforts. About nine minutes after takeoff, the first stage of the double-decker missile is expected to hit the giant ship’s deck.
GO Ms. Chief, one of the boats equipped with SpaceX nets, is heading to the recovery area awaiting launch tonight. It’s not clear if GO’s Chief will ever try to capture Falcon 9’s idle guard – the “nose cone” that protects the satellite during launch – or if SpaceX will just fling the two halves of the unit out of the ocean. (Whether or not fishing is done depends on a number of factors, including weather and sea conditions in the rehabilitation area.)
SpaceX has succeeded in its attempt to reuse more Falcon 9, even reusing some controllers in multiple missions. The split payload accounts for about 10% of the cost of the missile. Reusing streams can save up to $ 6 million per flight, said Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX.
The launch’s weather conditions looked good for tonight’s attempt, as Air Force 45 Space Wing weather officials had predicted 60% chance to meet favorable conditions when take off. According to weather officials, the main concern is the rising wind and cumulus clouds.
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