SpaceX shared this scenic view of the Falcon 9 that will carry Space Force’s GPS satellite into orbit.
Space Force and SpaceX are getting along famously. Elon Musk’s company is gearing up to launch a military GPS satellite from Florida on Friday. This follows a Space Force Falcon 9 launch in June. The launch is scheduled for a 15-minute window that opens at 6:43 p.m. PT. The weather forecast is 70% favorable for liftoff.
SpaceX is hosting a livestream of the launch. The company will attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft is scheduled to deploy about 90 minutes after liftoff.
The GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 is the fourth in a series of GPS satellites operated by the US Space Force, the newest branch of the military. It’ll join a larger satellite constellation already in orbit.
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It’s been a busy week for rocket launches that haven’t actually launched. SpaceX was scheduled to send a new batch of Starlink communications satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 on Thursday, but that launch was scrubbed and will be rescheduled. United Launch Alliance also intended to send up a Delta IV Heavy rocket on Wednesday with a classified spy satellite, but a technical issue stopped the most recent attempt.
Falcon 9 and GPS III-4 vertical on Pad 40 in Florida. Tonight’s 15-minute launch window opens at 9:43 p.m. EDT. Weather forecast is 70% favorable for liftoff → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/x34amrWoRt
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 2, 2020
The postponed Starlink launch combined with the Space Force mission made for a nifty photo opportunity. SpaceX shared a view on Twitter earlier this week of the two Falcon 9s on their separate launch pads.
Targeting Thursday, October 1 at 9:17 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink. Due to a conflict on the Range, now targeting launch of GPS III-4 on Friday, October 2; 15-min window opens at 9:43 p.m. EDT pic.twitter.com/VVhhatjBbh
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 30, 2020
We’ll see if SpaceX can escort the GPS mission into orbit as planned. As we’ve seen this week, delays are common.