SpaceX has launched the third GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 1610 local (2010 UTC) on 30 June from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 40, as temperatures exceeded 30ºC. It was the first GPS launch undertaken by SpaceX.
The US Space Force had delayed the launch of GPS III SV03 from April due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was delayed for a further 15 minutes on the day due to strong high-altitude winds.
At ~90 minutes after liftoff, SV03 was placed in a transfer orbit ranging from 250 to 12,550 miles (400-20,200 km), inclined at 55º. It will use its own propulsion to circularise the orbit at the higher altitude. It is scheduled to become operational in August, occupying Plane E, Slot 4 - replacing a remarkable satellite, launched in 2000, which had a designed lifespan of 10 years. GPS III satellites have a designed lifespan of 15 years.
SpaceX has recovered the first-stage booster from the launch rocket - the first time this has occurred on a GPS launch.
GPS III SV04 and SV05 are complete and scheduled for launch in late September 2020 and January 2021. Lockheed Martin have a further 5 satellites in test or build and are contracted to build a further 22 follow-on GPS IIIF spacecraft.