SpaceX is scheduled to launch the U.S. Space Force’s third Lockheed Martin-built GPS III navigation satellite aboard its Falcon 9 rocket on June 30.
The launch will be conducted from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida with the 15-minute launch window opening at 3:55 PM EDT.
SpaceX was earlier contracted for the launch of the GPS III SV03 satellite, for which, the company is using its Falcon 9 reusable rocket. The launch will be the second National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission to be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the first NSSL mission where a Launch Service Provider is recovering a booster.
Originally scheduled to launch on April 29, the GPS III-3 mission took a 60-day tactical pause in order to implement new health and safety measures to protect launch and operations crew during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
GPS III SV03, named “Columbus” in honor of Christopher Columbus, will join the current 31-satellite operational constellation to continue to provide the “gold standard” in positioning, navigation, and timing services for more than four billion users worldwide. It is the latest of up to 32 next-generation GPS III/GPS III Follow-On (GPS IIIF) satellites Lockheed Martin has designed and is building to help the Space Force modernize its GPS constellation with new technology and capabilities.
The GPS III satellite family provides new capabilities vital to ensuring the fidelity of the GPS constellation and signal in the contested, degraded and operationally limited environments.