SpaceX would be launching the GPS III SV05 satellite on behalf of Space Force very soon from Florida, U.S. The company would be using Falcon 9 rocket booster that helped launching GPS III SV04 in November 2020. In accordance with the name, GPS III spacecraft are the substitutes for 31 GPS satellites operating in orbit at present. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are partially reusable as it regularly lands the boosters, which are the largest and the most expensive component of a rocket, and launches them again.
The upcoming SpaceX launch will be a huge feat as for the first time Pentagon has allowed the company to send a national security satellite into orbit through a rescued rocket. Interestingly, according to the military, this move will help Space and Missiles Systems Center save about $64 Million.
The Pentagon chose to award SpaceX with five out of the six GPS III satellite launch contracts to date with the only condition that they used the same booster to launch SV05 that was used for the SV04 satellite. They had no other qualms on how the company used the Falcon 9 booster in the future and stated that Space Force would also consider flying national security payloads that were launched on boosters from non-military missions. The one remaining project for GPS III satellite was received by the competitor United Launch Alliance which is a joint venture by rocket-building Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The five received by the company involve a contract of a total of $469.8 Million and originally had no option of letting SpaceX reuse Falcon 9 rockets.
The whole launch is a massive advancement for the U.S. military towards accepting the unconventional practice of SpaceX of reusing rockets. This is because previously, the government required the companies to use new rockets and discard the boosters in the ocean, which is considered a traditional practice in the launch industry.
For the past five years, Space and Missiles Systems Center has diligently worked towards allowing reusable rocket launched by setting new requirements. They noted that the center had to review a total of 440 chances to the booster, amongst which more than 380 verification steps before the launch has been completed. The launch by SpaceX would be the third mission of the Space Force’s National Security Space Launch program to the land rocker. The collaboration is mutually beneficial, and both parties have been working towards the intricacies of allowing the reuse of a rocket for a long time, and now the move would be immensely beneficial to the space force in monetary terms.