June 30th GPS-III SV03
4:10 PM EST. From SLC-40 at Canaveral Air Force station atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
After a short delay due to high upper altitude winds on Tuesday June 30th the Falcon flew on it's successful mission to deploy the GPS-III SV03 satellite. This is SpaceX's eleventh mission of the year, and the first mission for the newly formed Space Force, and the first booster recovery after a National Security Space Launch mission. In part of an ongoing mission by the Department of Defense to upgrade GPS satellites in current orbit, this launch will replace one of the oldest in space, being up for nearly twenty years now. The last two GPS satellites launched in August 2019 atop the very last Delta IV Medium rocket, and in December of 2018 atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
GPS-III SV03 is the newest most powerful Global Positioning Satellite, will have three times more accuracy, eight times more anti jamming capabilities, and twenty five percent longer battery life than the last of the newest satellites in the 31 satellite constellation. GPS-III's new L1C civil signal will make it the first FPS satellite to have a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems.
The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin, with up to thirty two more GPS III, and GPS IIIF satellites. They are being assembled and tested at the company's GPS III facility near Denver, Colorado. Opened in 2011, the $128 million dollar state of the art factory was designed in a virtual reality environment to maximize production efficiency.
Originally slated to launch in April of this year the launch was delayed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic at hand. To remain inside the boundaries of the CDC guidelines and maintain the safety of U.S. Space Force, and Launch personnel, only essential personnel required to launch were in attendance, and spaced out at their work stations. The 45th Space Wing oversees launches along the East coast has been implementing their own measures to ensure safety during missions as well, implementing spacing, temperature checks, along with reducing personnel on site. During the pandemic the 45th Space Wing has overseen several launches, including the first manned mission from U.S. soil in nine years, with out one member of the team being infected with the virus.