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.
The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. The Vespucci will provide PNT information three times more accurate than that of current Global Positioning System, according to Air Force authorities.
SpaceX said the rocket was a "rare, expendable" version of the Falcon 9 since it would not attempt to re-land the booster after launch, needing to reserve all the rocket fuel to propel the satellite to its distant orbit.More news: Trump Expresses Confidence in 'Very Talented' Mnuchin, Hits Fed for Rate Hikes
SpaceX was initially scheduled to launch on Tuesday, while Vice President looked on from Kennedy Space Center. In April 2016, SpaceX was awarded the first National Security Space mission and it has four other GPS III missions on contract.
Elon Musk's SpaceX capped a record-setting year on Sunday when it launched a rocket carrying a new GPS III satellite for the US Air Force, after delaying the mission several times because of a technical issue involving its rocket sensors and bad weather.
The mission was SpaceX's first national security mission. The rocket flew in an expendable configuration, without any landing legs, at the request of SpaceX's customer, the US Air Force.More news: Oil prices likely to gain early 2019 after production cuts: OPEC ministers
The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said. The satellite provides improved services and longer lifetimes. "We put a requirement on there to produce stronger signals, to try and fight through some of that jamming that we see, particularly on our military signals".
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The next satellite is due to launch in mid-2019.More news: Ghosn detention extended over Christmas and New Year
Vespucci's nickname honors Italian cartographer and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, after whom North and South America were named. The original launch window was 8:55 a.m.