Lockheed Martin’s GPS III SV04 lifts off

Space Coast, FL – On November 5, 2020 at 1824 EST, SpaceX delivered a Lockheed Martin Global Positioning System satellite. The name of the satellite is Sacagawea, or GPS III SV04. This is the fourth GPS satellite of this newer, modern version.

GPS III SV04 payload on a Falcon 9
Fairing encasing GPSIII SV04 (Sacagawea) on top of Falcon 9 B1062 | photo: Jon Van Horne

A Scrub

The first attempt of the launch was aborted on October 2, 2020. The auto abort system safely shut down the ignition sequence at ~3 seconds to lift off.

Unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator.

– Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO

After an investigation, SpaceX found that there was an early start on 2 of the Merlin engines. Engine 1 and 2. These engines were replaced ahead of the launch new launch date.

Falcon 9 lifts off for GPS III SV04
9 Merlin engines roaring in the night for lift off of GPS III SV04 | photo: Crystal Gabriel

The Success of GPS III SV04

This mission marked SpaceX’s 101st successful launch. The Falcon 9 rocket booster B1062.1 made it’s first flight and successful landing on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous drone-ship.

Night streak photo of the mission GPS III SV04 by SpaceX
Falcon 9 lights up the night sky | photo: Jon Van Horne

SpaceX has currently been unhindered in automation and reusability. A few more months left in the year with a decent amount of launches left to go. We haven’t hit that 48 launches in 1 year yet, but 2021 is looking to be that year. More improvements are being made daily and we can expect less delays and scrubs due to tech/mechanical for next year.

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Jon Van Horne
Jon Van Horne

He began his career in media as a multimedia designer and developer in Montreal, Quebec. He developed a passion for media during his job in Photography and Video at a Montreal media content company. Other passions in media, photography/videography and soon going back to school in engineering.