There’s a lot of traffic these days at Cape Canaveral in Florida, and the congestion forced a delay Wednesday in a planned launch by Hawthorne-based SpaceX of a U.S. Space Force GPS satellite.
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the GPS III Space Vehicle 04 had been scheduled for 6:51 p.m. California time. But citing “a conflict on the range,” SpaceX reset the launch for 6:43 p.m. Friday.
The delay was due to another scheduled mission, a United Launch Alliance rocket carrying a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office set for just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, also at Cape Canaveral.
In the meantime, SpaceX will attempt early Thursday to launch another batch of internet satellites. The company is targeting launch for 6:17 a.m. California time Thursday to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 of its Starlink satellites into orbit.
The Starlink launch has been delayed multiple times, largely due to bad weather in Florida earlier this month caused by Hurricane Sally. It will be SpaceX’s 13th launch of Starlink satellites as part of the company’s effort to build a worldwide, low-cost broadband network designed to bring internet access to under-served areas around the globe.
Friday’s U.S. Space Force launch will be the third National Security Space Launch by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. As has become customary, SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket after launch so it can be reused in future missions.
The satellite will be added to an array that already includes 31 satellites orbiting at a rough altitude of 12,550 miles above the Earth.
“Our GPS III team is excited to be here once again,” Col. Edward Byrne, Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division chief, said in a statement. “Less than three months ago, we successfully launched GPS III SV03. Since then, the team has successfully delivered the satellite to its final orbit, performed on-orbit testing and delivered the satellite to operations, while executing a mature satellite production line. I can’t be more proud of everyone involved in this mission.
“The launch of GPS III SV04 will continue to modernize our GPS constellation by increasing our capabilities with advanced features for both our civil and military users across the world,” he said.