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USAF launches first GPS III satellite

4th January 2019 - 15:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The US Air Force launched the first GPS III satellite, Vespucci, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 23 December.

The Lockheed Martin-built satellite was launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 evolved expendable launch vehicle. Engineers and operators at Lockheed Martin’s Waterton facility will now begin on-orbit checkout and tests which are estimated to be completed in six months. Operational use is expected to begin in about a year.

Vespucci will be directed to augment the current GPS constellation comprised of 31 operational spacecraft. GPS satellites operate in medium earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 12,550 miles in six planes. Each satellite circles the earth twice per day. GPS provides position, navigation and timing services for billions of users worldwide.

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