February 7, 2023

SpaceX launches next-generation GPS satellite

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SpaceX launched a new Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite into orbit on behalf of the US military on Wednesday, continuing efforts to bolster its smartphone-enabled global positioning and navigation satellite constellation. Appswartime operations and more.

The GPS satellite launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:24 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX later confirmed that the satellite had been deployed tweet Shows the video of the moment.

The mission carried the sixth spacecraft in a new generation of GPS satellites, called GPS III, to an orbit about 12,550 miles (20,200 km) above Earth’s surface, where more than 30 GPS satellites are currently operating. It swings around the planet about once every 12 hours and is constantly transmitting radio signals to pinpoint the exact location of objects on Earth. The next generation of GPS III satellites, made by Lockheed Martinwill modernize that system, with plans to build up to 32 of the satellites, including the six launched since 2019.

Although GPS services are routinely used by smartphones, Lockheed Martin indicates on its website that they also serve military purposes.

“The space has become a more contested environment – with more competitive opponents,” says the company’s website. Our fighters need enhanced capabilities to counter evolving threats. The need to refocus on GPS as a ‘war system’ has never been more apparent.”

The previous generation of GPS satellites began service in the late 1990s.

After Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral and used up most of its fuel, the first stage—the large lower section that gives initial thrust at liftoff—separated from the rocket and satellite’s second stage and returned to a precision landing point on a platform in the sea. It’s a routine maneuver for SpaceX, which regularly recovers and reuses its rockets to cut costs.

The booster first stage rocket launched Wednesday was used on SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission, which carried four astronauts to the International Space Station in October 2022.