SpaceX launches Space Force GPS satellite to orbit
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday for the launch of a new US military GPS satellite.
This is SpaceX’s third launch since its historic flight of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30. It’s also the first time landing one of its rockets after deploying a military satellite.
The mission to lift the new US Space Force satellite to orbit is the company’s 11th launch of 2020. Continuing this intense pace of launches would allow Elon Musk’s commercial space startup to pretty easily set a company record for most launches in a year.
The company launched another military GPS satellite in 2018. At the time, the US Air Force determined that SpaceX would not be able to perform the needed flight trajectory and also land the first-stage booster, according to SpaceNews.
Since then, the company and the US military have negotiated changes in its GPS mission requirements and the cost of launch to enable SpaceX to attempt landing its first stage after lofting the satellite on Tuesday.
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) June 30, 2020