SpaceX Successfully Launches GPS III Space Vehicle 01

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At approximately 12,550 miles (20,200 kilometers) up ... turn left.

In addition, "we're going to see an increase in power", Col. Steve Whitney, director of the SMC Global Positioning Systems Directorate, said in the December 14 telecon. The next generation "GPS III" satellite finally soared into space on Sunday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. ET, according to a report. By the statement given by Heather Wilson, the secretary of Air Force, the third generation of Global Positioning System will be three times accurate than that of the previous generation as well as eight times better anti-jamming. The new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other worldwide global navigation satellite systems, like the European Union's Galileo system.

Elon Musk's SpaceX scrapped Saturday's launch of a long-delayed navigation satellite for the USA military due to strong upper level winds. The Air Force nicknamed the satellite "Vespucci" after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

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"This is the Air Force's first GPS III, so we are excited to begin on-orbit test and demonstrate its capabilities", Caldwell said.

The network now features 31 operational satellites, which orbit about 12,550 miles (20,200 kilometers) above Earth. The Verge wrote the launch managed to avoid further delay due to the ongoing government showdown because funding for the Department of Defence has already been allocated for 2019. Last summer the Air Force "called up" the satellite for launch and Lockheed Martin delivered it to Florida on August 20.

This morning's launch was originally scheduled to occur on Tuesday (Dec. 18), but SpaceX called off that attempt after receiving an "out of family" reading from sensors on the Falcon 9's first stage.

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The satellite itself was built by Lockheed Martin.

The satellite, designated GPS III SV01, is the first of an entirely new design of GPS satellite which will help the Air Force modernize today's GPS constellation with new technology and advanced capabilities. That won't happen for a few years though, as the Air Force is still working on the ground control system needed to control this next generation of navigation.

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