Update: SpaceX has been forced to abort today’s launch due to an as-of-yet unspecified issue with the rocket. The rocket-triggered abort pushed the launch out of the narrow launch window and the company will now attempt the launch tomorrow, December 19th.
SpaceX’s incredibly busy slate of 2018 launches is showing not signs of slowing down in the waning months of year, and the company will send yet another of its Falcon 9 rockets skyward today to deploy a new piece of global positioning tech.
The spacecraft, GPS III-SV01, is up to three times as accurate as its predecessor, according to Lockheed Martin, and today will be the first time it is sent into space. The launch is scheduled to begin at shortly after 9 a.m. EST, and you can watch it live right here.
As usual, SpaceX will be live streaming the event via various web platforms including YouTube. Here’s the company’s rundown of the event:
SpaceX is targeting Tuesday, December 18 for launch of the United States Air Force’s first Global Positioning System III space vehicle (SV) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The 26-minute launch window opens at 9:11 a.m. EST, or 14:11 UTC. The satellite will be deployed to medium Earth orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff.
If for some reason the launch can’t take place as planned, SpaceX has a backup launch window already set up for Wednesday, December 19th at around the same time.
A bit of added context about the GPS III satellite that will be sent into space today, via SpaceX’s mission overview:
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.
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.