SpaceX launches GPS 3 satellite on a previously flown first-stage for the first time

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Launches, Military space, Satellites, Seradata News, SpaceX

The USA successfully launched the GPS III SV05 satellite on a Falcon 9 vehicle from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA, at 1609 GMT on 17 June. The GPS III SV05 satellite was deployed by the upper-stage at 1738 GMT. Initially left in an intermediate transfer orbit, the satellite will now propel itself into MEO proper.

The first-stage of the vehicle landed on the drone barge “Just Read The Instructions” stationed down range in the Atlantic Ocean eight and a half minutes post-launch.

The Falcon 9 lifts-off for the second time carrying another GPS satellite into orbit

The Falcon 9 lifts-off for the second time carrying another GPS satellite into orbit. Courtesy of SpaceX via YouTube


This launch marks the first “national security” payload launched on a re-used first-stage. This milestone represents the US military establishment’s growing ease with the idea of rocket reusability. Initially the launch contracts for these GPS missions required SpaceX to utilise a new first-stage for each however, this has now been amended to allow for previously flown boosters in future. As a stepping stone to full acceptance of re-used first-stages from the general pool, the USSF requested that this mission utilise the first-stage which flew the previous GPS mission in November last year.

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