SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force in 2014 in protest over the military's award of a multibillion-dollar, non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed.
The spacecraft, GPS III-SV01, is up to three times as accurate as its predecessor, according to Lockheed Martin, and today will be the first time it is sent into space. The live stream typically starts about 15 minutes before the launch window opens and is available on the SpaceX website as well as on YouTube, or below.
Originally, today, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Arianespace, and ULA were supposed to launch their respective rockets.
It's the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites that will replace older ones now in orbit.
As reported, the launch of the rocket with the satellite was scheduled for December 18. It will carry a U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite called the NROL- 71, which the Air Force says will help to give "innovative overhead intelligence systems for national security".
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The launch is scheduled to happen from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Eventually, the Air Force plans to replace the old GPS satellite constellation with an entirely new constellation, but for now, new GPS III satellites will augment the current GPS constellation.
"GPS OCX launch and checkout system will command the satellite to execute key maneuvers, including controlling the burns to get the satellite into desired orbit", said Bishi Das, Raytheon GPS OCX launch and checkout system director. The rocket is on the pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It's the most cyber secure space system in the U.S. Department of Defense. Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin halted a launch from Texas because of "a ground infrastructure issue".
Third up will be Arianespace, which is flying one of Russia's Soyuz rockets and launching a satellite from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana at roughly 11:37 am Eastern Standard Time (EST).
The launch was canceled as another company was forced to abort a similar mission.