ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 5 (UPI) — SpaceX plans to launch the U.S. Air Force’s fourth next-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System from Florida on Thursday evening.
To Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 6:24 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Should a delay occur, controllers have a 15-minute window in which to launch the rocket.
The military’s GPS system also is used by civilians, guiding such everyday tools as Google Maps and Uber’s ride-share locator service. Such business fueled by GPS is estimated by the military to drive about $300 billion in revenues each year.
Possible wind and clouds at the launch site present a 40 percent chance of violating launch conditions, which could cause a delay, according to a U.S. Space Force forecast.
The satellite, GPS III SV04, is intended to augment and update the existing network of over 30 spacecraft in a medium Earth orbit. The Air Force aims to keep the number of GPS satellites at 24, with new ones replacing satellites as they are retired.
Military officials said the new GPS III system, when fully operational, will bring three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor.
Lockheed Martin builds and delivers the GPS satellites, which the Air Force said are vital to U.S. and allied operations worldwide, with 4 billion users in financial, transportation and agricultural applications.
The previous GPS III satellite launched June 30 became operational Oct. 1, according to Lockheed Martin.
Five more GPS III satellites are in production, three of which are fully assembled and being tested.
Lockheed is under contract to build up to 22 morel GPS satellites, known as GPS III Follow On which will “add additional technology and advanced capabilities to ensure U.S. and allied forces cannot be denied access to GPS in hostile environments” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
SpaceX, Falcon 9, GPS Block III, United States Space Force, GPS satellite blocks
World news – THAT – SpaceX plans to launch GPS satellite Thursday evening