A Falcon 9 rocket launches the GPS III-03 mission in June, 2020.
Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches the GPS III-03 mission in June, 2020.


On Friday, the US Area Drive stated it might launch two crucial International Positioning System missions on a used Falcon 9 rocket subsequent yr.

Doing so will save the navy $52 million, officers stated, as SpaceX agreed to decrease compensation for the 2 missions in return for flying used {hardware}. This represents a big step by the Area Drive towards validating using flight-proven first levels of a rocket for probably the most crucial nationwide safety missions.

“We’re trying ahead to this journey with SpaceX as we get much more skilled with them and reusable {hardware},” stated Walter Lauderdale, Area and Missile Techniques Heart Falcon Techniques and Operations Division chief, in a name with reporters.

SpaceX beforehand launched a GPS mission for the US navy (GPS III-01) in late 2018 and once more in June of this yr (GPS III-03). The rocket firm is ready to launch one other one in all these navigation satellites (GPS III-04) as early as Wednesday, Sept. 30. These flights had been, or will likely be, flown on new rockets.

Now, the Area Drive and SpaceX have agreed to contract modifications that may permit for the launch of two extra GPS III missions (05 and 06) on reused Falcon 9 first stage rockets. This was enabled by the truth that the Area Drive agreed to permit the GPS III satellites to be launched into a distinct orbital perigee. This alteration got here after the primary GPS III launch, in 2018, when there was no first stage restoration try.

Due to this transformation, SpaceX was capable of get well the Falcon 9 first stage flown on a GPS mission in June, and the corporate will get well the booster on future GPS missions. In return for this, SpaceX agreed to some extra spacecraft necessities for future missions—and saved $52 million for the US authorities.

As a part of these missions, the Area Drive plans to raised perceive the purposeful lifetime of a Falcon 9 booster to additional allow reuse of rockets sooner or later. “SMC’s dedication to modern partnerships and dealing with the business sector whereas sustaining our mission assurance posture and mission-success file can’t be understated,” Lauderdale stated.

SpaceX welcomed the US authorities’s lodging.

“SpaceX is proud to leverage Falcon 9’s flight-proven advantages and capabilities for nationwide safety house launch missions,” stated Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief working officer, in a press release. “We respect the trouble that the U.S. Area Drive invested into the analysis and are happy that they see the advantages of the know-how. Our in depth expertise with reuse has allowed SpaceX to repeatedly improve the fleet and save important valuable tax {dollars} on these launches.”


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