SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS yet, ends banner year

SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS yet, ends banner year
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. The rocket is carrying the U.S. Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built. (Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)

SpaceX has launched the U.S. Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built.

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday, hoisting the into orbit.

The satellite was supposed to soar Tuesday but concerns and then weather delayed the flight.

Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, says this next-generation GPS satellite is three times more accurate than previous versions and eight times better at anti-jamming. It's the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 50 miles (80 kilometers).

Lockheed Martin developed the advanced GPS technology and is building the satellites at a facility near Denver.

Sunday's launch was Space X's 21st and final launch of the year, a company record.

SpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS yet, ends banner year
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. The rocket is carrying the U.S. Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built. (Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)

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Dec 24, 2018
"...and eight times better at anti-jamming."

How does this "anti-jamming" work for the satellite?

Dec 24, 2018
I don't think they're gonna tell anyone about it. Other than it's there. Probably frequency agility.

Dec 24, 2018
Series of Rockets should be Launched from the same pad one after the other....Each one Blowing the Former Further....Finally, They should Move away in a Tree Branch Fashion.

Dec 27, 2018
That would be problematic, as rockets take a great deal of time to physically move, check out and fill up with propellants. You also don't want launch vehicles to be close enough to each other that a single catastrophic failure would more than one rocket out courtesy of fiery debris. To say nothing of the huge cascading effect a launch delay of any kind would have when you're stuck with but one pad. A damaged pad would be especially concerning.

The best bet to increase volume would be to not only have multiple pads for a given launch facility, but multiple launch facilities altogether to get around potential weather bottlenecks and increase the range of orbits available without incurring payload reductions. SpaceX, for instance, is investing in the construction of a launch facility in Boca Chica Village, Texas, and NASA reopened the Wallops Flight Facility to orbital launches in 2013.

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