A SpaceX rocket was reportedly launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite. Sources claim that this was SpaceX’s first national security space mission for the U.S.
Reportedly, The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a GPS satellite worth $500 million, was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp and launched from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. local time. In the last week incidentally, four previously scheduled launches, including one launch on Saturday, were canceled due to technical issues and bad weather.
Reports claim that this successful launch marks a victory for the privately held rocket company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk. The company had apparently spent years trying to enter the lucrative market for military space launches, dominated by Boeing Co. and Lockheed.
For the record, in 2014, SpaceX had sued the U.S. Air Force over the military’s award of a multibillion-dollar, which is a non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance. In 2015, it dropped the lawsuit after the U.S. Air Force agreed to open up competition. The next year, SpaceX won a $83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite that will have a lifespan of 15 years.
Chip Eschenfelder, Lockheed spokesperson, was reportedly quoted stating that the satellite was the first to be launched out of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts which was worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program. Eschenfelder further stated that the next GPS III satellite will launch in mid-2019, whereas subsequent satellites are undergoing tests in the company’s processing facility in Colorado.
Air Force stated that the launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled due to production delays.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp, operating as SpaceX, is a privately held American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services firm headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002, with an aim to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.