SpaceX Falcon 9 Raised at Night for Inaugural Launch of USAFs Most Powerful GPS Satellite Series: Photos, Watch Live

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
poised at night on Dec. 17 for liftoff on
GPS III SV01 mission for the US Air Force from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, FL, on Dec. 18, 2018 at 9:11 am EST. Expendable booster will not be recovered and lacks grid fins and landing legs. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer  SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
–17 December 2018


CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL- A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was raised at pad 40 this evening in anticipation of the Tuesday morning,
Dec. 18, launch of the inaugural satellite of the US Air Force’s most power Global Positioning System (
GPS) III satellite series
ever built – namely
GPS III SV01 – from the Florida Space Coast.



Rumors are rife that Vice President Mike Pence has already flown in from
Washington, D.C. on a special trip to witness the launch first hand.



The 23 story tall Falcon 9  stood poised magnificently erect at night for
liftoff just 12 hours from now as myself and our media gaggle were setting up
our cameras at Launch Complex 40 tonight, Monday, Dec. 17- backdropped against
the blackness of the evening sky. 



Blastoff
of the next and last SpaceX Falcon 9 of 2018 carrying the modernized and
advanced GPS III SV01 satellite for the Air Force is slated
for blastoff Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 9:11 a.m. EST,
14:11 GMT,
from Space
Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.



Enjoy our gallery of
Space UpClose photos taken at pad 40 this evening. 



SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
poised at night on Dec. 17 for liftoff on
GPS III SV01 mission for the US Air Force from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, FL, on Dec. 18, 2018 at 9:11 am EST. Expendable booster will
not be recovered and lacks grid fins and landing legs.Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com 

All is well with the
rocket and the weather!



“Falcon 9
and GPS III SV01 are vertical on Pad 40 in Florida. Vehicle and weather are go
for tomorrow’s 26-minute launch window, which opens at 9:11 a.m. EST, 14:11 UTC,”
SpaceX tweeted this evening.



The weather outlook remains quite favorable – currently
forecast as 90% GO !!

Up Close view of nose cone
atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised at night on Dec. 17 for liftoff on
GPS III SV01 mission for
the US Air Force
from Space
Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on Dec. 18, 2018 at
9:11 am. Expendable booster will not be recovered and lacks grid fins and
landing legs.Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com  

The Falcon 9 launch window lasts for 26 minutes
and extends from 9:11 a.m. to 9:37 a.m. EST Dec. 18. 



In case of a delay for any reason, a backup
launch opportunity exists on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 9:07 a.m. ET (1407 GMT).



You can watch the launch on a SpaceX dedicated
webcast that starts about 15 minutes
prior to the opening of the nominal
launch window at:



www.spacex.com/webcast
The Falcon 9 will launch in the upgraded Block 5
version on an expendable mission where the first stage booster will not be
recovered.  There are no grid fins or
landing legs installed on the 15 story tall first stage.



This is the first Block 5 model that will launch
in an expendable configuration and not be soft landed either by land or by sea. 



The Air Force wants every drop of fuel available
to hurl the GPS III SV01 satellite to the most efficient orbit and maximize the
amount of on-board fuel available and minimize the satellites need to utilize
the fuel reserves for orbit raising maneuvers.



The satellite will be deployed to medium Earth
orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff.



Technicians prepare to encapsulate Lockheed Martin’s GPS
III Space Vehicle 01
within a SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space
Operations’ Florida facility on Dec. 7.  2018.
Scheduled for SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Dec. 18, 2018.
  Credit: Lockheed Martin

The GPS III satellites has a wet weight of 9700
pounds (
4,400 kilograms) and is the size of an SUV.

Sporting the roundel, or national insignia of
the U.S. military and the shield of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s
Global Positioning Systems Directorate and its team members, technicians
complete encapsulation of Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Space Vehicle 01 within a
SpaceX payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations’ Florida facility on Dec.
7, 2018. Credit: Lockheed Martin

From the SpaceX Press Kit:


The United States’ Global Positioning System
delivers positioning, navigation, and timing services supporting vital U.S. and
allied operations worldwide, and underpins critical financial, transportation,
and agricultural infrastructure that billions of users have come to depend on
daily. 



Artists concept of Lockheed Martin GPS III SV01 in orbit





The United States Air Force’s first GPS III
satellite will augment the current constellation of 31 operational GPS
satellites. This newest generation of GPS satellites is designed and built to
deliver positioning, navigation, and timing information with three times better
accuracy, and up to eight times improved antijamming capability. GPS is used by
over four billion users and supports critical missions worldwide. 



GPS is a National Security Space (NSS) mission,
critical to national defense. In April 2016, SpaceX was awarded its first NSS
mission, GPS III SV01. SpaceX currently has an additional four GPS III missions
on contract, all of which will be launched on Falcon 9.



Here is the launch timeline from SpaceX: 



Hour/Min/Sec 
Events



– 00:38:00 
SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load



– 00:35:00 
RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway



– 00:35:00  
1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway



– 00:16:00 
2nd stage LOX loading underway



– 00:07:00 
Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch



– 00:01:00 
Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks



– 00:01:00 
Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins



– 00:00:45 
SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch


– 00:00:03 
Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start

– 00:00:00 
Falcon 9 liftoff

Hour/Min/Sec 
Events

00:01:04 
Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)

00:02:44  
1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)

00:02:48 
1st and 2nd stages separate

00:02:50  
2nd stage engine starts

00:03:22  Fairing
deployment

00:08:16  
2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1) 01:08:51  2nd stage engine restarts

01:09:37  
2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2) 01:56:17   GPS III SV01 deployment

Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science
and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter
@ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist,
journalist and photographer based in the KSC area.
………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events



Learn more about the upcoming/recent SpaceX Falcon 9/USAF GPS 3-01, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-16
launch to ISS,  NASA missions, ULA Atlas
& Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
FL, evenings:


Dec
18
: “SpaceX Dragon CRS-16
resupply launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon GPS 3-01, SpaceX Falcon Heavy &
Falcon 9 launches, upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 USAF GP3 3-01, NRO & USAF
Spysats, SLS, Orion, Boeing and SpaceX Commercial crew capsules, OSIRIS-Rex,
Juno at Jupiter, InSight Mars lander, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars,
NH at Pluto, Kuiper Belt and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville,
FL, evenings. Photos for sale














Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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