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SpaceX plans to launch next-generation GPS satellite from Florida

SpaceX plans to launch next-generation GPS satellite from Florida

ORLANDO: Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to launch the U.S. Air Force’s third next-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System from Florida on Tuesday.

A Falcon 9 rocket is to lift off at 3:55 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40. The Air Force delayed the launch from April due to health concerns for the launch crews amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to get it right the first time, and protecting our people is just as important as cost, schedule and performance,” Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center, said in a statement about the delay.

The weather at launch time is predicted to be 60 percent favorable, according to Air Force meteorologists. A heavy cloud cover and lighting in the area are the concerns.

The military’s GPS system also is used by civilians, guiding such everyday tools as Google Maps and Uber’s ride-share locator service.

The satellite, GPS III SV03, is intended to augment and update the existing network, which has 31 spacecraft in a medium Earth orbit. The Air Force aims to keep the number of GPS satellites around 24 spacecraft, as older satellites are retired.

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