Falcon 9 rocket launched by billionaire Elon Musk's company carries US Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
A SpaceX rocket carrying a US military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Sunday, marking the space transportation company's first national security space mission for the United States.
#SpaceX #GPSIII a gratuitous view of the falcon 9 just after launch! pic.twitter.com/EFyXuBsAE9— Amazing Space (@AmazingSpace2) December 23, 2018
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 am local time (1351 GMT).
Main engine cutoff and stage separation confirmed. Second stage engine burn underway. pic.twitter.com/SxaPhVBnfH— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 23, 2018
The successful launch is a significant victory for Elon Musk's privately held rocket company, which has spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.
The satellite is the first to launch out of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III programme, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.
The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said.