SpaceX Launches Fourth GPS III Satelite for the US Space Force

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Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX has launched a GPS III satellite for the U.S. Space Force. It is the second GPS III generation satellite SpaceX has launched for the U.S. military this year. The first started in June and was SpaceX’s overall third GPS III. This is the fourth and will provide enhanced GPS navigation capabilities, including improved interference protection technology

SpaceX used the brand new Falcon 9 first-stage on and recovered the rocket booster successfully with a controlled landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The firm has also confirmed that its payload has reached good orbit and is now heading into the deployment point where the GPS spacecraft can be released for final orbital insertion.

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This mission flew from Cape Canaveral in Florida and was the second attempt at delivering this payload. Earlier at the beginning of September, the first attempt was called off as two engines started early causing an auto-shutdown of the launch sequence just before two seconds of liftoff. 

SpaceX analyzed the problem and discovered that it was due to some remnants of the masking material used to shield engine components from fuel lines. This lead to a shift in the production and inspection phase of the engine.

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The fourth GPS III SV04 is a member of an upgraded generation of GPS navigation spacecraft. It transmits more resilient higher power signals and additional radio frequencies to make the GPS network more compatible with other similar constellations.

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