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Upcoming GPS III SVO3 launch

From SLC-40 atop a Falcon 9 rocket, the launch is scheduled for Tuesday June 30th with a window from 3:55 pm to 4:10 pm.


As we have been getting used to SpaceX launching Starlink mission along the space coast in recent times the company is launching this week The newest most powerful Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite that has ever been designed and built for the U.S. Air Force. The GPS III will be three times better accuracy and eight times more improved anti-jamming capabilities than the previous GPS satellite built back in 2018. The satellites will also be able to receive signals from any country's satellites, making the most of their chances to receive a strong accurate signal any where in the world.

(Drawing of the GPS III satellite, courtesy of Lockheed Martin)


The Columbus GPS III vehicle arrived in Florida, February of 2020, and was initially slated to launch in April. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the launch was delayed by the customer, and now three months later is preparing for flight.


Launching the satellites will be the SpaceX Falcon 9, a two stage partially reusable orbital rocket that is capable of lifting payloads up to 50,300 lbs into LEO, or Low Earth Orbit. Falcon 9's first stage is made up of nine Merlin 1d+ engines with launching power over 1.7 millions pounds of thrust. Once stage separation occurs in orbit, the first stage will commence reentry and landing. For this mission, the drone ship "Just Read The Instructions" will be positioned in the Atlantic ocean for the first stage to land on. It will then be towed back to Port Canaveral to be refitted and re-flown. This will be the first launch of SpaceX booster 1061.



SLC-40 has been in use by SpaceX since the company leased it from the Air Force in 2007. Previously used for the 55 launches of Titan III, and Titan IV between 1965-2005. As of today this will be I believe the 42nd launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from SLC-40. Until recently this launch pad was the primary launch site for any non crewed, or non Falcon Heavy, as LC-39A was used for those types of launches. Now due to the high demand launch cadence and such short times between launches the company has started using both launch pads to keep things rolling smoothly.


The static fire of booster 1061 took place Thursday June 25th ahead of the upcoming launch. A static fire is when the rocket is rolled out to the pad, set in launch positions and the engines are fired for a

(A Falcon 9 launch from 2019 from SLC-40)




few seconds to make sure all systems are running smoothly. In 2016, during the Amos-6 static fire the rocket booster suffered a cataclysmic failure and the entire rocket along with the satellite payload was lost. Since then SpaceX has performed the tests without the payloads on the rockets for commercial customers. During some of the more recent Starlink missions the company has chosen to do the static fire with the satellites atop the rocket, possibly to save a little time and money with having to roll the rocket back in and out again after adding the payloads and fairings.


The launch forecast provided by the 45th Space Wing has given the days possibility of violating the conditions necessary to launch by 40%. This means we only have a 60% chance of being able to launch during the first scheduled attempt. This is as of Sunday June 28th, where until this morning the chance of launch was only 40%. It seems the weather is becoming more favorable as the week continues upon us.


Check back after the launch to see more pics / info of liftoff.










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