The fifth GPS III Space Vehicle launched Thursday on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to join the current network of GPS satellites, Los Angeles Air Force Base said.
GPS III satellites feature the m-code military signal that U.S. forces use for positioning, navigation and timing.
The constellation of 31-operational spacecraft is used to broadcast L1C, a new civilian signal that is easier to acquire and works to enhance reception in cities and remote areas and enable ionospheric corrections.
Cordell DeLaPena, Jr., USSF program executive officer for SMC’s Space Production Corps, said the center launched SV05 seven months after SV04, amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects.
The same Falcon 9 rocket launched in November and was reused for the SV05 mission. The mission marks the first time a reusable booster launched for a national security mission.
The Space Force said it saves the government $64.5 million via reuse missions for the GPS III program.
Lockheed will begin checking out and testing the satellite over a span of two weeks and could begin operations after a few months.