SpaceX will try to launch rocket Saturday morning

Posted at 7:21 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-21 07:27:58-05

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX will try Saturday morning to once again launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, sending a new GPS satellite into orbit.

The launch was originally supposed to occur Tuesday morning but has been delayed three times.

SpaceX tweeted that the launch window will open at 8:55 a.m.

NASA said the satellite, named GPS III SV01, will join 31 operational GPS satellites already in orbit, "delivering positioning, navigation and timing services for the United States and other operations."

This satellite is nicknamed “Vespucci” after late 15th century and early 16th century Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci for which the Americas was named after.

The rocket is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40.

Improved GPS

GPS III satellites will have a stronger military signal that's harder to jam. They also will provide a new civilian signal compatible with other countries' navigation satellites. That means civilian receivers capable of receiving the new signal will have more satellites to lock in on, improving accuracy.

But some of those features will not be fully available until 2022 or later because of problems in a companion program to develop a new ground control system for the satellites, government auditors said.

GPS is best known for its widespread civilian applications, from navigation to time-stamping bank transactions. The Air Force estimates that 4 billion people worldwide use the system.

GPS was developed by the U.S. military, which still designs, launches and operates the system. The Air Force controls a constellation of 31 GPS satellites from a high-security complex at Schriever Air Force Base outside Colorado Springs.

Portions of this article courtesy of the Associated Press