SpaceX GPS navigation satellite travels from Cape Canaveral into space

A Falcon 9 rocket goes into space with the fourth and third generation GPS navigation satellite of the US space force. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX on Thursday launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral with the US Space Force’s new third – generation Global Positioning System navigation satellite, paving the way for SpaceX ‘s first operational crew dragon to launch space travel later this month.

Running more than a month late after launching a Falcon 9 engine problem mission, the GPS navigation payload soared into the clear autumn sky at 6:24:23 pm on Thursday.

After a 40 பவு 1.7 million lift from the Bat 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the 229-foot (70 m) Falcon 9 rocket flew off Florida’s space coast into a northeastern parallel to the U.S. East Coast.

The rocket’s nine Merlin 1D main engines were shut down, and the first phase was separated into two and a half minutes in flight.

While the single Merlin engine on the upper deck is operating in GPS satellite orbit, the Falcon 9’s reusable first-stage booster descends from a distance of 400 miles (630 kilometers) floating in the Atlantic Ocean on a space-level drone. Cape Canaveral.

Falcon to maneuver US space force’s fourth-generation GPS satellite – designated GPS3 SV04 – at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 km) and 12,550 miles (20,200 km) in an egg – shaped transmission orbit The second phase of 9 was ignited twice. ), With a slope of 55 degrees to the equator, according to generally available observation data.

Those figures confirm that the Falcon 9 rocket hit its mark almost 90 minutes after the lift of the Lockheed Martin-built GPS3 SV04 satellite, which revolved around SpaceX’s 20th successful mission of the year.

Lockheed Martin confirmed in a statement that ground teams made contact with the nearly five-ton GPS spacecraft at the company’s satellite control center near Denver, which fired its board liquid apogee several times in a few days to reach a circular orbit 12,550 miles from Earth.

Ground controllers will send commands to the GPS satellite to assemble its solar panels and antennas to generate electricity, perform checkouts and then hand over the spacecraft to the Army Space Operations Command.

A Falcon 9 rocket takes off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on Thursday. Credit: Stephen Clark / Space Travel Now

The GPS3 SV04 satellite will join the GPS Navy’s 31 operational spacecraft, providing information on cell phones, cars, aircraft and ships, providing stabilization, navigation and time data to billions of military and civilian users around the world.

The new satellite is expected to complete its update and test program in about a month, and officials expect the GPS3 SV04 to be ready for operational use in a few months, the space force said.

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“The GPS 3 program continues to advance the modernization of the GPS constellation for the U.S. space force, while maintaining the gold standard for position, navigation and time,” said Colonel Edward Byrne, head of the Medium Earth Orbital Space Systems Division. And the Missile Systems Center.

The GPS 3-Series satellites are designed for a lifespan of 15 years, an improvement over the seven and a half year and 12 year design life of previous generation GPS satellites.

“GPS 3 satellites offer an important step in both efficiency and regression compared to traditional GPS satellites,” Byrne said. “GPS is an important operator for the U.S. military and its allies, and serves more than 4 billion civilians worldwide worldwide.”

The first of 10 GPS 3-Series satellites launched in December 2018, and two more GPS 3 spacecraft in August 2019 and on June 30 this year. According to Lockheed Martin, GPS3 satellites offer three times better accuracy and eight times better anti-jam capabilities than the initial GPS spacecraft.

GPS3 satellites also introduce a new L-band civilian signal that is compatible with other international navigation satellite networks, such as Europe’s Galileo project. The accuracy of space-based level measurements can be improved by combining signals from GPS, Galileo and other navigation satellites.

Artist’s view of the GPS3 satellite in space. Credit: Lockheed Martin

In September, space officials announced that they had reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch future GPS3 satellites on Falcon 9 rockets with previously flown boosters. Officials said the first-level booster, which flew into operation on Thursday evening, will be updated and used again to launch the next GPS3 satellite in mid-2021.

The Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center or SMC signed an renewed contract with SpaceX in September to contract to fly the next two GPS satellites on reusable Falcon 9 boosters. The reusable Falcon 9 will also launch the first phase GPS3 SV06 mission, which is likely to fly in late 2021 or early 2022.

Restructured deals between Space Force and SpaceX were allowed to land the first level booster of the Falcon 9 after June 30, following an earlier GPS satellite launch. SpaceX also launched the first GPS 3-Series satellite in December 2018, but the launch pad required military officials to allocate all of the Falcon’s propulsion to launch the spacecraft, leaving no residual fuel for landing and disembarkation.

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Earlier this year the space force eased the requirements for the next SpaceX launch with a GPS satellite, adjusting the perigee or low point of the target orbit to send the GPS payload to a lower altitude. This ensured that the Falcon 9 rocket would land the booster on the June 30 mission, saving the space force millions of dollars.

The factor in the changes, which will allow booster recovery on four GPS missions starting with the June 30 launch, is that renewed launch deals between two GPS passengers, Rocket Reuse, Space Force and SpaceX, starting next year will save $ 52.7 million, officials said. .

Next year’s GPS3 SV05 mission will be the first high-priority national security payload to be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket with a previously flown booster phase. SpaceX officials will fully review SpaceX’s updates and rocket reuse practices and policies before removing the GPS3SV05 satellite to be launched into a recycled booster next year.

This will help lay the groundwork for launching more national defense satellites on Balkan rockets with reusable first-level boosters.

Walt Lauderdale, head of SMC’s Falcon Systems and Operations division and mission director for the GPS3SV04 countdown and launch, said: : We will compare it with merit. It learns all the work they do to prepare these boosters to fly again. ”

“So we need to review a number of different systems for this, and make sure we are well on our way not only with this particular booster, but also with the hardware that has flown before,” Lauderdale told a news conference in September.

With the GPS3 SV04 satellite safely in orbit, SpaceX’s next mission is to launch the first regular Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, scheduled for November 14 from Pat 39AV at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA engineers will analyze data from the GPS launch Thursday night to confirm that the Merlin engines are ready to go on the Falcon 9 rocket assigned to the Crew Dragon launch.

SpaceX first launched the GPS3SV04 satellite Oct. Tried to pay 2, but a mechanical problem forced an automatic stop two seconds before the lift.

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Engineers investigating the October 2 shutdown said two of the rocket’s nine first-stage engines tended to ignite one split-second more than expected. Prohibited relief valve tests on the gas engines of both engines increased the pressure faster than initially designed, and the sensors in the engines detected the problem and stopped the countdown.

SpaceX engineers Has identified the occult treatment Two Merlin engines were inadvertently left to the countdown, which was abandoned last month. The material was found to block a line leading to the pressure relief valve in the gas generator on the first two engines specified for GPS work.

Hans Kனniksmann, vice president of creation and aircraft reliability at SpaceX, said the vent port, which represents one-sixteenth of an inch wide, is blocked by hardened mask lacquer. Liquid lacquer – similar to red nail polish – by a third-party vendor who anodizes aluminum engine components for SpaceX, he said.

The lacquer protects some parts during the anodizing treatment process, but the seller – who is not identified by the authorities – must remove the material before sending the components to SpaceX for machine production.

The gas generator in each Merlin engine delivers kerosene and liquid oxygen powered by a turbo pump into the main combustion chamber.

SpaceX replaced two suspicious engines in the first phase of the Falcon 9 for GPS3 SV04 mission and then tested the rocket on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on Saturday. This gave authorities enough confidence to keep up with Thursday’s GPS release countdown.

While reviewing Merlin engines throughout SpaceX’s rocket fleet, the two engines in the Falcon 9 rocket for the Crew Dragon aircraft show similar early start signatures to the engines in the launcher for GPS mission.

SpaceX said last week that it would replace both of those engines in the Falcon 9 launcher for Crew Dragon mission. The engine issue delayed the launch of the Crew Dragon from October 31 to November 14.

NASA’s Business Program Program Manager Steve Stitch said last week that the agency’s engineers wanted to review machine data from a GPS launch.

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