SpaceX closes out year with successful GPS satellite launch

A new era in GPS navigation launched Sunday, when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbed into orbit with a Lockheed Martin-built satellite designed to beam higher-power positioning, navigation and timing signals around the world, providing military and civilian users with more accurate data that is more resistant to growing jamming threats.

The satellite successfully launched Sunday — known as GPS 3 SV01 and nicknamed “Vespucci” after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci — is the first in a new generation of GPS navigation stations designed with improved services and longer lifetimes to ensure the U.S. military-run network remains available to troops, pilots, sailors and the public for decades to come.

The 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 launcher lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad at 8:51 a.m. EST (1351 GMT) Sunday after multiple delays over the last five days, including countdowns halted by SpaceX to investigate sensor trouble in the rocket’s first stage and by poor weather at the Florida spaceport.

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