SpaceX has been forced to scrub some of its launches recently due to weather and other issues with equipment. On Thursday, November 5, at 6:24 PM EST, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket placing the GPS III Space Vehicle 04 into orbit. The launch occurred at the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed for recovery on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX says that the satellite deployed approximately one hour and 29 minutes after liftoff. The launch marks the second SpaceX conducted for the Space Force.
The first launch for Space Force happened in June, and SpaceX has a contract to launch additional GPS satellites over the next five years aboard rockets using previously flown first-stage boosters. Reusing first-stage boosters is key to saving money on rocket launches and making spaceflight cheaper for taxpayers.
The GPS III satellite that SpaceX placed into orbit is more accurate than previous models and features improved anti-jamming capability. Improved anti-jamming capability is highly important for GPS satellites as both civilian and military hardware depends on a precise location. SpaceX is on a roll, having celebrated its 100th successful flight in October.
The company has been launching rockets frequently in an attempt to catch up after being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In between launching satellites for the Space Force, SpaceX has made multiple launches to place new Starlink satellites into orbit for its satellite-based broadband Internet service. The Starlink service is currently being trialed in several parts of the United States and apparently works well. SpaceX fills in the blanks with commercial missions for other companies in addition to sending supplies and astronauts to the ISS for NASA.