SpaceX launches GPS navigation satellite from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9 rocket is deployed in space with the fourth third generation GPS navigation satellite of the US space force. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Thursday with the US Space Force’s new third-generation global positioning system navigation satellite, which marks the launch of SpaceX’s first active crew, the Dragon Astronaut Mission, later this month. Helps.

Running more than a month late after assuming the mission of the Falcon 9 engine problem, the GPS navigation payload rocked a clear autumn sky at 6:23:23 PM EST (2324: 23 GMT) on Thursday. .

After climbing from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, pushing 1.7 million pounds, the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket landed on the same track east of the US East Coast off Florida’s space coast.

The rocket’s nine Merlin 1D main engines shut down, and the first phase separated in about two and a half minutes.

While the single-stage single Merlin engine powered the GPS satellite in bit rabbits, the Falcon 9’s reusable first-stage booster landed in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles (630 kilometers) below the SpaceX’s football-sized drones. Landed at a landing point. Cape Canaveral.

The second phase of the Falcon 9, which was named after the US Space Force’s fourth third-generation GPS satellite – GPS 3 – was aired twice in an egg-shaped transfer cycle of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) and 12,550 miles (20,200 kilometers). ), With a tilt of 55 degrees towards the equator, according to publicly available tracking data.

Those figures confirm that the Falcon 9 rocket hit its mark before the Lockheed Martin-built GPS3 SV04 satellite was deployed about 90 minutes after lift, wrapping up SpaceX’s 20th successful mission of the year.

Lockheed Martin confirmed in a statement that ground teams at the company’s Satellite Control Center near Denver have made contact with the approximately five-ton GPS spacecraft, which will launch several on-board liquid apogee engines in the coming days. Time will tell. 12,550 miles above the earth.

Ground controllers will send commands to the GPS satellite to deploy their power-generating solar panels and antennas, checkout, and then hand over the spacecraft to the Army’s Space Operations Command.

A Falcon 9 rocket lands at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday from Pad 40. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

The GPS 3 SV04 Satellite GPS fleet will include 31 functional spacecraft, providing location, navigation and time data to billions of military and civilian users around the world, providing information to cell phones, cars, airplanes and ships. Will be done.

The new satellite will complete its checkout and test program in about a month, and according to the Space Force, authorities expect the GPS3 SV04 to be ready for operational use in a few months.

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Col. Edward Byron, Head of the Space Force’s Medium Earth or Rabbit Space Systems Division, said, “The GPS 3 is moving forward with the modernization of GPS wires for the US space force, maintaining the golden standard of programming, positioning, navigation and time.” And the Missile Systems Center.

The GPS 3-Series satellites are designed for a lifespan of 15 years, which is an improvement over the previous generation of GPS satellites with a lifespan of 15 years and a 12-year design life.

“GPS 3 satellites are a big step in both capacity and flexibility compared to older GPS satellites,” Bain said. “GPS is an important contributor to the US military and its allies, and provides global service to over 4 billion civilian users worldwide.”

The first satellite of the 10 GPS 3-series launched in December 2018, the next two more GPS 3 spacecraft in 2019 and will arrive on June 30 this year. According to Lockheed Martin, GPS 3 satellites offer three times better accuracy and eight times better anti-jamming capabilities than the initial GPS spacecraft.

The GPS 3 satellites also offer a new L-band civilian signal that is compatible with other international navigation satellite networks, such as Europe’s Galileo program. The combination of signals from GPS, Galileo and other navigation satellites can improve the accuracy of space-based position measurements.

Artist’s concept of a GPS 3 satellite in space. Credit: Lockheed Martin

In September, space force officials announced that they had reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch a future GPS 3 satellite on the Falcon 9 rocket. The first-stage booster, which was blown up on Thursday evening’s mission, will be repaired and re-used for the launch of the next GPS 3 satellite in mid-2021, officials said.

The Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, or SMC, signed an updated agreement with SpaceX in September to allow the next two GPS satellites to fly on reusable Falcon 9 boosters. A reusable Falcon 9 will also be launched in the first phase of the GPS 3 SV 066 mission, likely to fly in late 2021 or early 2022.

The restructured agreement between Space Force and SpaceX was to allow the first phase booster of the Falcon 9 to land after the last GPS satellite launch on June 30. SpaceX also launched the first GPS 3-Series satellite in December 2018, but military officials demanded that the launch company reserve all Falcon 9 spacecraft for the launch of the spacecraft, with no fuel left for landing and landing. To leave.

The Space Force has eased their needs to launch the next SpaceX with a GPS satellite earlier this year, adjusting the bit or rabit point of the target to deploy the GPS payload at a lower altitude. This ensures that the Falcon 9 rocket will land a booster on its June 30 mission, saving the space force millions of dollars.

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Officials said changes were made to allow booster recovery on four GPS missions starting June 30, and then re-rocketing on two GPS missions launched next year, Space Force and SpaceX. The deal, launched between the two countries, resulted in savings of Rs 52.7 million, officials said. .

The GPS 3 SV05 mission will be the first high-priority national security payload to be launched next year on the Falcon 9 rocket with a high-priority booster phase. Space Force officials will conduct a full review of SpaceX’s upgrade and rocket reuse procedures and policies before clearing the GPS3 SV05 satellite to board the recycled booster next year.

This will help lay the groundwork for the launch of more national security satellites with reusable first stage boosters on the Falcon rocket.

Walt Lauderdale, SMC’s Head of Falcon Systems and Operations, and Mission Director of GPS3SV04 Countdown and Launch, said: Walt Lauderdale, Head of Falcon Systems and Operations, and GPS3 SV04 Countdown and Mission Director of Launch. : We will then compare with his ability. It is learning and then evaluating all the work they do so that these boosters can be ready to fly again. “

“So there’s a need to review a number of different systems and make sure we’re good across the board with the hardware already flying, not this particular booster,” Lauderdale told reporters in September.

With the GPS 3 SV04 satellite safely in the air, SpaceX’s next mission is to launch the first regular Crow Dragon passenger flight to the International Space Station, scheduled for November 14 from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Is a blastoff.

NASA engineers will analyze Thursday night’s GPS launch data to make sure the Merlin engine crew is ready to launch the Falcon 9 rocket assigned to the Dragon launch.

SpaceX first tried to launch the GPS3 SV04 satellite on October 2, but an engine problem forced an automatic abortion just two seconds before the lift.

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Engineers investigating the October 2 abortion found that the rocket had a tendency to set fire to the split-second before the first of the nine nine-stage engines expected. Investigations showed that an interruption in the gas generators of both engines was due to the pressure rising faster than the pressure created at the start valve, and the engines and sensors detected the problem and stopped the countdown.

SpaceX Engineer Identified a masking treatment Last month, two of Merlin’s engines were unknowingly overlooked. The inspection revealed that the two engines launched for the GPS mission detected a line blocking substance in the gas generator causing a pressure relief valve.

Hans Konigsman, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said the vent port, which means only one sixteen inches wide, was blocked by hard masking wood. He said liquid lacquer – similar to red nail polish – is used by a third-party vendor who anodizes aluminum engine parts for SpaceX.

The locker protects some parts during the anodizing treatment process, but the vendor – who has not been identified by authorities – is expected to remove the material before sending the parts to SpaceX for engine construction.

The gas generator on each Merlin engine delivers a turbopump feeding kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants to the main combustion chamber.

SpaceX replaced two suspicious engines in the first phase for the Falcon 9’s GPS3 SV04 mission, then test-fired a rocket at Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday. With this, the authorities gave a lot of assurance to continue the GPS launch countdown on Thursday.

A review of the Marlin engines across SpaceX’s rocket fleet found that the engines on the Falcon 9 rocket for the Crew Dragon flight were showing the initial signatures of the engines on the launcher for the GPS mission.

SpaceX said last week that it would replace the two engines on the Falcon 9 launcher for the Crew Dragon mission. Engine problems delayed the launch of the Crew Dragon from October 31st to November 14th.

NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stitch said last week that the agency’s engineers wanted to review engine data from the GPS launch before clearing the Crew Dragon for a lift later this month.

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Raven Weber

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