Home science SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lights up Florida's night sky while launching GPS satellite into orbit

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lights up Florida's night sky while launching GPS satellite into orbit

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lights up Florida's night sky while launching GPS satellite into orbit


Liftoff! SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lights up Florida’s night sky as it launches to orbit carrying an upgraded GPS satellite for the US Space Force

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 marked its 20th launch this year with a mission Thurs evening
  • The rocket took off at 6:24pm ET, carrying a US Space Force GPS into orbit
  • This is SpaceX’s second attempt at the mission – it was scrubbed on Oct 2
  • The GPS joins 31 US Space Force satellites more than 12,000 ft above Earth 

The night sky lit up over Cape Canaveral, Florida as SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket took off carrying a US Space Force Global Positioning System (GPS) into orbit.

The rocket launched at 6:24pm ET, marking the firm’s third GPS launch and its 20th mission for this year.

The US Space Force device is joining 31 other satellites orbiting Earth more than 12,000 miles above the surface, which circle our planet twice a day. 

With seconds left on the clock, mission control said ‘Falcon 9, ignition,’ and the rocket activated its Marlin engines that shot out streams of fire and smoke before soaring up into space. 

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With seconds left on the clock, mission control said 'Falcon 9, ignition,' and the rocket activated its Marlin engines that shot out streams of fire and smoke before soaring up into space

With seconds left on the clock, mission control said ‘Falcon 9, ignition,’ and the rocket activated its Marlin engines that shot out streams of fire and smoke before soaring up into space

This was the second attempt by SpaceX to send GPS III-SV04 into orbit. 

The initial launch was set for October 2, but Falcon 9’s computers shutdown operations and it took the crew weeks to identify and solve the issue.

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SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann said: ‘We looked at the data and saw that two of the engines attempted to start early.’

Thursday’s launch proved to be a different story, as the Falcon 9 took off without any problems.

The night sky lit up over Cape Canaveral, Florida as SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a US Space Force Global Positioning System (GPS) into orbit

The night sky lit up over Cape Canaveral, Florida as SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a US Space Force Global Positioning System (GPS) into orbit

The rocket took off at 6:24pm ET, marking the firm’s third GPS launch

The rocket took off at 6:24pm ET, marking the firm’s third GPS launch

Faring separation occurred at around three minutes after the launch, which sparked a round of applause among the ground crew.

And the GPS separated from the fairing with three minutes and 42 seconds into flight.

The Falcon 9 returned to Earth and touched down on the drone ship ‘Of, Course I Still Love You.’

The mission markets the 20th launch for SpaceX and Falcon 9’s sixth landing in 2020.

his was the second attempt by SpaceX to send GPS III-SV04 into orbit. Thursday’s launch proved to be a different story, as the Falcon 9 took off without any problems

his was the second attempt by SpaceX to send GPS III-SV04 into orbit. Thursday’s launch proved to be a different story, as the Falcon 9 took off without any problems

GPS III-SV04 has now joined the other satellites and with its upgrades, brings new capabilities such as the L1C civilian signal that is set to be used with international satellite navigation systems.

The US Space Force took control of the US GPS assets in space from the Air Force when it branched off into its own wing of the armed forces.

The GPS satellites are designed to provide signals that are more accurate and powerful than previous generations, which boost performance for both civilians and military users.

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SpaceX has dipped its toes into the military market recently and is working with the US military to develop a rocket that can deliver weapons via space to anywhere in the globe within an hour.

Faring separation occurred at around three minutes after the launch, which sparked a round of applause among the ground crew. And the GPS separated from the fairing with three minutes and 42 seconds into flight

Faring separation occurred at around three minutes after the launch, which sparked a round of applause among the ground crew. And the GPS separated from the fairing with three minutes and 42 seconds into flight

The system would allow materials to be transported the 7,500-odd miles from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the US-run Bagram airfield in Afghanistan in under an hour.

The rocket will be able to carry an 80 ton payload, similar to that of a single C-17 — and proof-of-principle tests are expected to begin next year.

The collaboration — which will also include Texas aerospace firm xArc — was announced by US Transportation Command’s General Stephen Lyons.

The first steps in the project will involve an assessment of the potential costs and challenges that will need to be overcome to deliver cargo globally in an hour.

‘Think about the speed associated with that,’ General Lyons said at a conference last month.

‘I can tell you SpaceX is moving very, very rapidly in this area. I’m really excited about the team that’s working with SpaceX.’



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