SpaceX ends historic year with its final launch of 2018

SpaceX launches new GPS satellite for US military

Mission requirements meant that SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage after launch on this occasion.

Lockheed Martin is building the new satellites outside Denver.

The next GPS III satellite is due to launch in mid-2019 and the subsequent satellites will undergo testing in the company's Colorado processing facility. GPS III has three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. A company executive said the satellite "will be the first step in modernizing the Air Force's Global Positioning System constellation with the most powerful and resilient Global Positioning System satellites ever designed and built".

Two hours later, SpaceX published an update on Twitter and confirmed that the GPS III SV01 satellite was successfully deployed to medium Earth orbit.

Vespucci's nickname honors Italian cartographer and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, after whom North and South America were named.

The GPS III satellite is a next-generation version satellite that will significantly aid the US Air Force in more precise geolocation services.

Mr. Caldwell added: "By this time next year, we expect to also have a second GPS III on orbit and users should be receiving signals from this first satellite". This is the 20th major rocket launch from Florida this year.

The next launch attempt will be on Sunday at 8:51 a.m. EST/ 13:51 UTC, according to Space X officials.

The Air Force and its partner contractor Lockheed Martin will watch and test the satellite for six to nine months and then take another six to nine months examining the ground systems the spacecraft is declared operational. It is set to undertake another 4 GPS III missions. The vice president was in Florida to announce that President Donald Trump had ordered the, a unified combatant command to provide control of all military space operations.

The successful GPS III SV01 mission marked SpaceX's 21st and final launch of 2018, beating the company's 2017 flight rate of 18 launches.



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