GPS III SV04 Receives Operational Acceptance

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.–Global Positioning System III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 received United States Space Force’s Operational Acceptance approval on Dec. 1- marking yet another significant milestone for the GPS III program, Space and Missile Systems Center and USSF.

It is the fourth GPS III satellite delivered into the operational constellation in the past 12 months and the second in the past three months. Additionally, this is the first GPS III vehicle delivered to the warfighter through an expedited satellite control authority transfer process, which cuts ten days off the previous operational acceptance timeline. 

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SpaceX Launches GPS III Satellite for U.S. Space Force

SpaceX launched the GPS III SV4 navigation satellite for the U.S. Space Force on Thursday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida.

GPS III SV4 is part of the U.S. military’s latest generation of navigation satellites for the Global Positioning System. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft.

The Falcon 9 booster made an on-time liftoff at 6:24 p.m. EST. The navigation satellite was deployed from the rocket’s second stage 1 hour 29 minutes after launch.

The Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX used a new Falcon 9 first stage for the mission. In September, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) announced an agreement with SpaceX to launch previously flown first stage boosters on future national security space launch missions.

Antares Flies, Falcon 9 Stays

An Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus resupply ship on Oct. 2, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

Update: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted the Falcon 9 launch was aborted due to an “nexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator. No word on when they will try launching again.

A Cygnus resupply ship carrying nearly 8,000 lb of cargo for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) was blasted into orbit by an Antares rocket on Friday night.

The Northrop Grumman booster lifted off on time at 9:16 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. The flight followed a scrubbed launch on Thursday due to a software problem with ground equipment.

Cygnus, which is also a Northrop Grumman vehicle, is scheduled to arrive at the ISS early Monday morning.

Results were not as good on Friday night for SpaceX, which suffered its second Falcon 9 abort of the week in Florida. The countdown from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was halted two seconds prior to a planned 9:43 p.m. EDT liftoff for an unknown reason.

The rocket is carrying the GPS IIII SV-04 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

On Thursday morning, the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites from nearby Kennedy Space Center was halted with 18 seconds left in the count due to an out family reading from a ground sensor.

Antares Scrub Makes It Three in a Row

Antares on the launch pad. (Credit: NASA webcast)

Ground sensors leave rockets stuck on Earth

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A Northrop Grumman rocket carrying supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) failed to get off the launch pad in Virginia on Thursday evening, marking the third scrubbed American launch in less than 24 hours.

A computer called an automatic halt to the launch of the Antares booster at 2 minutes 40 seconds before the planned liftoff at 9:43 p.m. EDT. The rocket is carrying a Cygnus resupply ship with cargo bound for ISS.

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