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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

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.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »