On its way to take the place of one of the 30 spacecrafts which aid in military functions and guiding motorists, a new Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite was launched into orbit on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher from Cape Canaveral, Tuesday.

This was the first launch from the SpaceXs for the US Space Force that took over almost all of the space programs run by the Air Force since its establishment back in December as a new military service.

The upgraded GPS navigation satellite that was launched from Falcon 9 adds new capabilities to the GPS networks and also to replace a spacecraft which has been in the orbit for more than two decades.

According to Space.com, the chief of the Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Col. Edward Byrne stated that the GPS 3 program still carries on to build on its achievements by giving more advanced capabilities for the US Air Force while also maintaining and upholding the gold standard for navigation, position and timing.

The said GPS 3-satellite, GPS 3 SV03, the third on of its line to take off, was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station pad 40 at around 4:10:46 p.m. EDT (2010:46 GMT).

Aboard the 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket, the spacecraft with a mass of around 9,505 lbs was launched in a trajectory northeast from the launch site and is currently fying almost parallel to the East Coast of the US.

About an hour and a half after the lift-off, the upper stage of the Falcon 9 released the GPS 3 SV03 satellite to a transfer orbit on-target which ranged in altitude at about 250 miles and 12,550 miles, inclining 55 degrees to the equator.

The said spot-on orbit places the GPS 3 spacecraft in position with the capability to use its built-in propulsion system in order to circularize its orbit in the following weeks. The said satellite is expected to reach the GPS constellation as soon as August.

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According to Space Flight Now, the launch has already been delayed for two months and was originally scheduled to take flight back in late April. The delay allowed time for introducing and testing new protocols which will enable physical distancing between the control consoles, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, military officials also reduced the crew size inside the control center, they also procured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the controllers to reduce COVID-19 risks.

According to the manufacturer of the satellite Lockheed Martin, GPS 3 SV03 will enter the Plane E, Slot 4 of the GPS constellation replacing the current occupant which is a GPS satellite that was launched back on May 10, 2000.

During a pre-launch conference that was held last Friday, Byrne told reporters that at the moment, the GPS constellation is consists of 31 satellites.

GPS network supplies worldwide positioning and timing services. Such services are used by the military and also civilian users who navigate in everyday traffic.


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