SpaceX abandoned 4 attempts to launch the US Air Force GPS III satellite earlier in the week (via the Guardian). The GPS III went into medium Earth orbit roughly 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff, according to the SpaceX press kit.
As usual, SpaceX documented Sunday's launch with videos and photos shared on social media. "In 2019, the big race is who is going to be the first company to put humans into space and bring them back".
Initially, the launch was scheduled to occur on December 18, but due to an "out of family" signals from sensors as well as a bad weather report, the launch delayed by three days. "I'm proud of my team and look forward to our additional National Security Space missions with SpaceX".
It was SpaceX's fifth attempt following technical and weather delays. The rocket flew in an expendable configuration, without any landing legs, at the request of SpaceX's customer, the US Air Force.
Years Ago Today, Apollo 8 Wished Earth A Merry Christmas Eve
EPIC's goal is to provide multiple images of Earth per day, to allow us to see how the world is changing over time . And I was happy. 'There's a handsome Moon out there, ' noted the radio message beamed up from NASA HQ in Houston.
The launch of the GPS III SV01 satellite, nicknamed Vespucci in honor of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, had originally been scheduled for 6:11 a.m. California time Tuesday.
GPS III SV01 is the first of an entirely new, next generation GPS satellite created to modernize the GPS constellation. It is but one of 32 planned GPS III satellites that will replace older ones now in orbit. The satellite provides improved services and longer lifetimes. You have arrived at a new era for the Global Positioning System (GPS). "We put a requirement on there to produce stronger signals, to try and fight through some of that jamming that we see, particularly on our military signals".
But it'll be a while before Vespucci, which was built by aerospace company Lockheed Martin, is fully up and running.
It took SpaceX about a decade or so to grow from a startup to one of the most important companies in the industry. On Dec. 8, GPS III SV01 completed pre-launch processing, fueling and encapsulation at Astrotech Space Operations, in Titusville, Florida. Liftoff winds are the primary weather concerns on launch day.