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Elon Musk-Owned SpaceX Successfully Deploys US GPS Satellite Into Orbit

SpaceX won an initial contract to launch the first GPS 3 satellite in 2016

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Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

Billionaire Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has successfully launched and deployed a powerful next-generation GPS navigation satellite into orbit — making it the company’s first-ever US government-sanctioned national security space mission.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbed into orbit on Sunday with the GPS 3 satellite designed to beam higher-power positioning, navigation and timing signals around the world.

It was SpaceX’s fifth attempt following technical and weather delays.

“On Sunday, SpaceX successfully launched the US Air Force’s first Global Positioning System III space vehicle (SV) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida,” the company said in a statement.

The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately one hour and 56 minutes after lift-off.

Due to mission requirements, SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch.

Elon Musk, tesla, tunnel
Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)

“The most important thing is that we get that rocket up safely and securely and it achieves its mission,” said US Vice President Mike Pence, also Chairman of the US National Space Council.

“I know this bird is going to fly and when it flies, it’s going to make a difference for the security and prosperity of the American people,” CBSNews quoted Pence as saying.

The $529 million GPS 3 satellite is the first of 10 being built by Lockheed Martin.

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The satellite would provide data for use by devices ranging from smartphones to automobiles, commercial aircraft and virtually all sectors of the transportation industry.

“Multiple data streams will enable receivers in aircraft, for example, to compensate for atmospheric effects that might otherwise reduce accuracy,” the report said.

SpaceX won an initial contract to launch the first GPS 3 satellite in 2016. (IANS)

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SpaceX Launches 60 Mini Satellites for Cheaper Global Internet

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX

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SpaceX, Satellites, Global
FILE - A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 23, 2019. VOA

SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second batch of an orbiting network meant to provide global internet coverage.

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX. The compact flat-panel satellites – just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each – will join 60 launched in May.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk wants to put thousands of these Starlink satellites in orbit, to offer high-speed internet service everywhere. He plans to start service next year in the northern U.S. and Canada, with global coverage for populated areas after 24 launches.

Last month, Musk used an orbiting Starlink satellite to send a tweet: “Whoa, it worked!!”

SpaceX, Satellites, Global
SpaceX employees work on the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will astronauts to and from the International Space Station, from American soil, as part of the agency’s commercial crew Program, in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. VOA

Employees gathered at company bases on both coasts cheered when the first-stage booster landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic.

“These boosters are designed to be used 10 times. Let’s turn it around for a fifth, guys,” company’s launch commentator said.

This also marked the first time SpaceX used a previously flown nose cone. The California-based company reuses rocket parts to cut costs.

Stacked flat inside the top of the rocket, the newest satellites were going to maneuver even higher following liftoff, using krypton-powered thrusters. SpaceX said there was a potential problem with one of the 60 that could prevent it from moving beyond its initial 174 mile-high (280 kilometer-high) orbit. In that case, the faulty satellite will be commanded to re-enter and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

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Each satellite has an autonomous system for dodging space junk. In September, however, the European Space Agency had to move one of its satellites out of the way of a Starlink satellite. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.

SpaceX is among several companies interested in providing broadband internet coverage worldwide, especially in areas where it costs too much or is unreliable. Others include OneWeb and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

According to Musk, Starlink revenue can help SpaceX develop rockets and spacecraft for traveling to Mars, his overriding ambition. (VOA)