A composite image of a Falcon 9 rocket booster taking off and landing near a lunch pad a few minutes later.
The next SpaceX launch will feature milestones as the Pentagon allows the Elon Musk company to send national security satellites into orbit with reused rockets for the first time.
SpaceX plans to launch the GPS IIISV05 satellite for the Space Force from Florida on Thursday using the Falcon 9 rocket booster that launched the GPS IIISV04 satellite last November. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket is partially reusable, as SpaceX regularly lands boosters (the largest and most expensive part of the rocket) and then launches them again.
“In preparation for this first event, we are working closely with SpaceX to understand the refurbishment process and are confident that this rocket is ready for the next flight,” said US Space Force Space. Dr. Walter Lauderdale, Deputy Mission Director of the Missile Systems, said. The System Center told reporters during a briefing on Monday.
The Pentagon has awarded SpaceX five of its six GPS III satellite launch contracts, and the GPS III SV02 mission was launched by its competitor United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to manufacture rockets. This is the only mission. These five launch contracts totaled $ 469.8 million and initially did not include SpaceX’s option to reuse the Falcon 9 rocket.
As the name implies, the GPS III spacecraft replaces the 31 GPS satellites currently in orbit.
Last year, the Space and Missile Systems Center modified SpaceX’s two GPS III satellite launch contracts to make them reusable. The military estimates that this will save about $ 64 million.
In particular, Space Force has requested that SpaceX use the same booster to launch SV05, which launched the SV04 satellite. However, Dr. Lauderdale said the Space and Missile Systems Center “has no other restrictions” on how the company will use the Falcon 9 booster in the future, and the Space Force is a nation launched with boosters from non-military forces. He emphasized that it is also open to the flight of security payloads. Mission.
“We will continue to cooperate [SpaceX] And for next year’s SV06 mission … we will work with them on which boosters are available, “Dr. Lauderdale said. [for Space Force].. “
The Falcon 9 rocket booster landed from SpaceX’s Demo-2 crew mission returns to Port Canaveral, Florida.
This move marks a new step for the US military to adopt SpaceX’s rocket-reusing practice. This is because the government previously required the company to dispose of boosters into the sea using new rockets, a traditional practice in the launch industry.
Dr. Lauderdale said the Space and Missile Systems Center has been working on allowing reusable rocket launches for the past five years, setting new requirements. He said the center reviewed more than 440 changes to boosters and completed more than 380 verification steps prior to launch.
“Overall, our disciplined approach is part of our uncompromising dedication to the success of missions carried out in one launch at a time,” said Dr. Lauderdale.
The launch on Thursday will also be the third mission of the Space Force’s National Security Space Launch Program to land rockets.
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