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USA: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 for first "national security" test flight

On June 12, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 booster, which preceded the fourth launch of an upgraded GPS III navigation satellite for the US military.

SpaceX Falcon 9

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Several years ago, SpaceX won the vast majority of GPS III launches thanks to the Falcon 9's excellent combination of reliability and affordability, securing all five tenders awarded. The company made the first launch of GPS III in December 2019, spending a brand new Falcon 9 booster (B1054) due to customer requirements - not performance - necessary to ensure extreme margins in case of some kind of anomaly or low performance during launch.

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In June 2020, SpaceX launched another GPS satellite for the US military, although this time the company had the opportunity to try to land the mission-supporting Falcon 9 booster - which it successfully recovered without any problems. . Less than five months after the successful launch of the GPS III SV03, SpaceX returned and launched the GPS III SV04 - again with a brand new Falcon 9 rocket - and recovered the booster at sea. A few months ago, however, the US Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) announced a contract amendment that would allow SpaceX to reuse Falcon 9 boosters on National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions - starting with the fourth GPS III. launch of the company.

Seven months later, SMC revealed that it has officially designated SpaceX to launch GPS III satellites (and other official NSSLs) on Falcon test rockets. Specifically, this could include a Falcon Heavy launch - USSF-52 - already scheduled for January 2022, which could reuse two new boosters scheduled to make their USSF-44 debut in October 2021. .

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Meanwhile, however, GPS III SV05 - scheduled to be released as early as (NET) 12:09 p.m. EDT (16:09 UTC), Thursday, June 17 - is just two days away from becoming the first NSSL (formerly EELV) satellite to be launched on a tested commercial rocket. The GPS III SV05 will reuse the same Falcon 9 booster (B1062) that successfully launched the GPS III SV04 seven months ago.

These seven months gave way to USA to fully certify the Falcons flight and gave satellite manufacturer Lockheed Martin time to deal with the shortage and delays associated with the COVID-19.

Now, the Falcon 9 will launch horizontally and return to the LC-40 integration hangar, where SpaceX will install the integrated GPS III SV05 satellite and payload fairing over the consumable second stage of the rocket.

The built-in payload assembly started at a nearby payload processing facility on the LC-40 on June 13, giving SpaceX four days to complete integration, return the Falcon 9 back to the launcher and prepare it. rocket for flight.

The L-3 meteorological forecast predicts a 40% chance of a delay on June 17, and at 18% on June 30. Stay tuned as SpaceX's first test flight for the US Army approaches.

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