SpaceX successfully launched an advanced GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force on Thursday (June 17), marking the 19th launch of the year here on the Space Coast. From a report: One of the company’s two-stage Falcon 9 rockets blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here at 12:09 p.m. EST (1409 GMT), carrying the GPS III SV05 navigation satellite to orbit. Nine minutes later, the rocket’s first stage touched down on the deck of “Just Read the Instructions,” one of SpaceX’s two drone ships. “What a beautiful view of the first stage landing,” Youmei Zhou, a SpaceX propulsion engineer, said during the company’s live launch commentary.
The GPS III SV05 satellite mission is the second to launch so far this month for SpaceX, following the launch of a broadband satellite for Sirius XM on June 6. It was nothing but blue skies over the launch pad, and onlookers were treated to a gorgeous view as the rocket climbed to orbit. Today’s flight marks the fourth GPS satellite delivery by SpaceX for the U.S. military. Three previous advanced GPS III missions also launched on Falcon 9 rockets, including two missions last year. Another of the satellites launched in August 2019 on the United Launch Alliance’s final flight of the Delta IV Medium rocket. “If you’ve ever used your phone’s mapping service or retrieved a location via a pin drop, you’ve used a satellite in this system,” Zhou said.