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SpaceX Launches First Satellite For Air Force's GPS Upgrade

SpaceX launches the Air Force's GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: SpaceX
SpaceX launches the Air Force's GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: SpaceX

The nation’s Global Positioning System, or GPS, is set to get an upgrade thanks to a SpaceX launch Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the Air Force’s GPS III satellite to provide upgraded navigation and security capabilities to the system

Previous attempts to launch the rocket from Florida’s Space Coast were delayed this week due to technical issues and bad weather.

After suing to be included in the bidding process, SpaceX won the $83 million launch contract in 2015. It’s the first national security mission for the private space company and it will soon launch four more GPS III satellites.

The Air Force plans to deploy 32 satellites in all, estimating the total upgrades for the systems will cost around $12 billion. Companies United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin were also awarded contracts.

SpaceX is one of the companies that’s also working to, once more, launch humans to space from U.S. soil. Vice President Mike Pence toured SpaceX’s Florida facility last week, and took a look at the Dragon 2 Capsule. The Vice President called it an important part of the future of American human space exploration.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."