Science

Watch as SpaceX launches an advanced GPS satellite for the US Space Force early Wednesday

SpaceX is set to launch a GPS satellite into orbit Wednesday morning (January 18) and you can watch the launch live.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster is scheduled to send the GPS III 06 spacecraft, an advanced global positioning system satellite, into space Wednesday at 7:10 a.m. EST (1210 GMT) from Spaceport 40 at Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral in Florida. . Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly through the company. (will open in a new tab).

The launch will be SpaceX’s fourth in 2023, and as usual, the Falcon 9 first stage will attempt to land about eight minutes after launch.

Related: 8 Ways SpaceX Changed Space Flight Forever

This GPS satellite is named after Amelia Earhart, an outstanding female aviation pioneer who was the first non-male pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. This launch will be the sixth in the GPS III series; the last one, named after Neil Armstrong, launched in June 2021.

The satellite will be launched on behalf of the US Space Force as part of a larger program to modernize the nation’s GPS fleet. The new satellite has an expected lifespan of 15 years and will eventually be part of a suite of 32 next-generation satellites, according to its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. (will open in a new tab).

The latest generation of GPS spacecraft have three times the accuracy, eight times the improvement in anti-jamming systems, and a new modular design to adapt “to better meet changing mission requirements and emerging threats,” Lockheed Martin said.

The company says roughly half of the world’s population (or four billion users) uses GPS technology for everything from transportation to precise monitoring of agriculture and utility infrastructure (some of which use GPS in part to pinpoint service areas).

However, the US GPS network is not the only set of navigation satellites available. The European Union has an independent system known as Galileo, Russia has GLONASS, and China has the Beidou system. The independence of GPS systems is often cited as an important issue of national sovereignty and security, especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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