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SpaceX rocket launches U.S. military satellite into orbit
by Paul Godfrey
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 18, 2023

Elon Musk's SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets Wednesday morning with a GPS satellite on board, part of a U.S. Space Force program to have a constellation of 32 navigation satellites orbiting the Earth.

The rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:24 a.m. EST carrying the fifth Lockheed Martin-made Space Vehicle 6 of the so-called GPS 3 constellation, which delivers positioning, navigation and timing signals to military and civilian customers.

SpaceX confirmed it had successfully injected the GPS satellite into a mid-Earth orbit at an altitude of 2,670 miles 90 minutes after liftoff. Each satellite in the constellation orbits the Earth twice daily, Space.com reported. The satellite will slowly climb over the next two weeks under its own power to its operational orbit of 12,550 miles above the Earth.

The mission is fueling a new chapter in the development of space exploration as the sector transitions to reusable rockets. The first stage of the Falcon 9, the booster that lifts the rocket and payload from the launch pad and flies for the first 2 1/2 minutes, previously propelled the International Space Station's Crew 5 -- Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, Japanese mission specialist Koichi Wakata and Russia's Anna Kikina -- up to the station in October.

Just under 10 minutes after launch the first stage docked with the SpaceX's drone ship, which had been standing by off the Florida coast.

"With each national security launch, we continue to strengthen America's capabilities and its deterrence in the face of growing threats while adding stability to a very dynamic world," Space Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy said.

Wednesday's launch was SpaceX's second launch for the U.S. military in the past three days and its fourth in all this year.

SpaceX had previously launched four GPS 3 satellites under contracts awarded in 2016 and 2018. The first launch was on Dec. 23, 2018, the second and third on June 30 and Nov. 5, 2020, and the fourth on June 17, 2021.

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SpaceX capsule lands safely on return from ISS
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 11, 2023
SpaceX confirmed Wednesday its Dragon cargo spacecraft successfully splashed down off the coast of Florida after returning from the International Space Station. The uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 5:19 a.m. EST, off the coast of Tampa, Fla., marking an end to the company's 26th contracted mission to resupply the space station for NASA. "Once Dragon has been retrieved by SpaceX's recovery team, the critical science aboard the spacecraft will be transported via helicopter ... read more

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