SpaceX launches Global Positioning System satellite from Florida, lands booster on ship

Katie Ramirez
November 6, 2020

SpaceX, which launched the GPS III satellite to the United States space force on the Falcon 9 rocket, has not launched a brand new rocket since June.

But when the company tried to launch the new Falcon 9 first phase on October 2nd-this was for another GPS satellite called GPS III-04-the attempt was scrubbed in T-2 seconds.

An unproven Falcon 9 rocket stands at the Florida launch pad on Thursday afternoon.

SpaceX has been pioneering a lot of flights this 2020 and ever since the company has been landing contracts with NASA, the expectations have only been growing in parallel.

Elon Musk's space company expanded its military contracts in the second half of 2020 and signed three military contracts in as many months.

SpaceX vice president Hans Koenigsmann told reporters October 28 that the engine anomaly that triggered the automatic abort was caused by material that blocked a relief valve in the engine's gas generator, which powers the engine's turbo pumps.

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This problem eventually led to the discovery of a small amount of lacquer used during a metal-treatment process that had to be removed before the flight, but no. These engines were exchanged for new ones, and thus yesterday's launch was possible.

With seconds left on the clock, mission control said 'Falcon 9, ignition, ' and the rocket activated its Marlin engines that shot out streams of fire and smoke before soaring up into space. The Falcon 9 rocket, with two Merlin engines replaced, will take off from the Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 6:24 PM EST (23:24 UTC).

SpaceX will give it another try Thursday, with liftoff scheduled for 3:24 p.m. California time. Approximately four tons of satellite will be sent into transmission orbit at a distance of about 20,000 km.

This unexpected push back brought on further delays, such as NASA's Crew-1 astronaut launch, which experienced issues with two of its engines. This mission is now scheduled for November 14th. Assuming data analysis confirms good engine performance Thursday, NASA should be able to press ahead with the long-awaited Crew-1 launch as planned. Because that first step has already been shown to be unaffected by manufacturing problems.

After the Falcon 9 peeled off from the satellite vehicle, the rocket booster landed on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean. Assuming tests and checkout go well, it will join a globe-spanning constellation of 31 Global Positioning System satellites. "At SMC, we are proud to deliver our fourth GPS III satellite and will continue to operate at an accelerated pace to enhance the capabilities of the billions of users worldwide". The company's launch webcast below should start about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.

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This will take a whole of government approach, including health care policy and fiscal policy too. But the levels are still well below where they were at the beginning of the year.

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