Friday , December 3 2021

SpaceX to close 2018 with GPS III and first contracted US security system –


SpaceX will include an impressive 21 launch-year campaign with the company's sought-after first US security mission. The launch of the spacecraft GPS III-SV01 will mark SpaceX's first competitive EELV, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, contract with the US Air Force and is the first of the new generation of GPS III satellites to launch.

The launch window extends Tuesday, December 18, from 09:11 – 09:35 EST (1411 – 1435 UTC). The mission will utilize a brand new Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket that flies in its interchangeable configuration, as Falcon 9's full performance is necessary to lift the GPS III satellite to its Medium Earth Orbit.

GPS III contract price:

The price of the first GPS III satellite contract traces its roots back to the day when the current Global Positioning System (GPS) reached full operating capacity on July 17, 1995.

While the original GPS targets were achieved that day, significant advances in technology and users' demands on the newly completed system for modernizing GPS resulted.

The initiative was fully supported by the White House and President Bill Clinton Administration in 1998, which launched the GPS III Program in conjunction with the US Congress Official Authorization in 2000.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, the GPS III system itself, the technology that would be included in the satellites and the overall spacecraft design, was studied, leading to the contract price for construction activities of Lockheed Martin, with Orbital ATK and Northrop Grumman Astro Aerospace, which provides parts of the satellites.

During the construction contract, Lockheed Martin served as the leading manufacturer and provided the A2100 bus structure for the satellites. In addition, Orbital ATK, now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, provided fuel and pressure and tanks, and Northrop Grumman Astro Aerospace provided the eight interchangeable JIB antennas.

Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the Next Generation GPS Operational Control System was awarded to Raytheon on February 25, 2010 to build the ground control system for GPS III satellites.

The first GPS III satellite was originally launched in 2014, and planned to be taken on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV M + rocket, but late technology and building delays delayed the first launch in the spring of 2018.

The launch agreement for the first GPS III mission was awarded to ULA in January 2012.

Global Positioning System Directorate Insignia. (US Air Force)

However, after the first contract was awarded to ULA, in 2015, the SpaceX and Air Force reached an agreement that SpaceX would release its air force trial in accordance with the Air Force's opening of National Security Launch Contracts for competitive bidding.

SpaceX's trial followed a price, separate from the GPS III radius of satellites, to ULA from the US government for a block purchase of 36 ULA launches without competition from external sources in 2013.

In 2014, SpaceX left suit against the air force in an attempt to force competition in the launch market, instead of relying only on block buy contracts, which was considered more expensive than individual contracted contracts.

Later that year, after the trial had been dropped, the air force followed its promise and publicly requested a fixed price contract for the launch of the second GPS III satellite.

The competitive bid was submitted as part of the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, where the Expendable part is a holder from the time spent by the rocket launchers. Falcon 9 is part of the EELV program, although it can be recycled and reused.

With the competitive nature of the contract, SpaceX offered a bid for Falcon 9 and ULA decided not to submit a bid quoting concerns about how the air force would choose the winner and worried that they could not meet SpaceX's low starting cost.

On April 26, 2016, the Air Force officially announced SpaceX's choice to launch the second GPS III satellite.

Since then, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth GPS III satellites have undergone competitive launches, with SpaceX that won them all with their Falcon 9 rocket.

GPS III satellite flight order change and launch:

By the time SpaceX won the GPS III contract for the second satellite in the series, it was slated to be the second launch of a GPS III satellite after the first satellites launched on the ULA Delta IV M + rocket.

However, one year after the contract award, the Air Force announced a rocket launch for the two missions in spring 2017 and took the GPS III SV01 (the first spacecraft) from the ULA Delta IV M + and placed it on Falcon 9 while taking GPS III SV-02 (the second spacecraft, and the only SpaceX offered) from Falcon 9 and place it on the ULA Delta IV M +.

Replacing the rockets that the first two satellites would launch did not affect the fixed contracts awarded to the two companies, but it gave SpaceX a crucial – and one more – first: SpaceX would now be the company to launch the first in the new generation of GPS satellites , not the other.

Due to the change in payload order, the SpaceX mission – while launching the first GPS III satellite – is the second contract flight. Therefore, the Air Force and SpaceX mission plot refer to this as GPS III-2, while in fact it is the first GPS III satellite (SV01).

Market testing and checkout for GPS III-SV01 was successfully completed in 2017, and refinements to the SpaceX launch manifesto took up mission launch in December 2018.

During the weeks leading to launch, SpaceX and Air Force successfully implemented the integration of GPS III SV-01 on payload adapter and encapsulation in the Falcon 9 payload.

Like previous SpaceX missions, Falcon 9's Static Fire was successfully completed – with a quick glance – soon after midnight on December 14th.

Unlike most SpaceX missions, the final pre-launch campaign also included a full-scale Mission Dress Repetition – where the launch and payload management team worked through a complete flight scenario including issues thrown on them to be ready for any opportunity on launch day .

GPS III-SV01 encapsulated inside the Falcon 9 payload at the beginning of December 2018. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

With these obstacles, the mission was eliminated in its launch preparedness review (LRR), which SpaceX and the Air Force were held jointly on Monday, December 17th. The LRR was closed with permission to continue in the launch, and Falcon 9 rolled out to the launch plate at SLC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Monday afternoon.

If everything goes to plan, the Falcon 9 rocket will lift from its launch launch plate at Cape Canaveral in a 24-minute launch window, extending from 09:11 – 09:35 EST (1411-1435 UTC) on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

A backup option is available on Wednesday, December 19th.

After lifting off, Falcon 9 will rush down and lead northeast from Cape to deliver GPS III-SV01 to a 55 ° slope.

Falcon 9 for this mission will use the first step core B1054, a brand new Block 5 first stage as required by the Air Force Fixed Price Agreement.

Because each individual pound of Falcon 9 performance is required to get the 3,880 kg GPS III satellite in its Medium Earth Orbit, the B1054 will fly in a usable configuration without landing legs and no routines and will be disposed of in the Atlantic after separation from second stage.

The GPS III-SV01 mission record (2nd contract with the GPS III launch – thus "-2" on the mission record. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9's mission timeline for GPS III-SV01 is:

Time Hr / Min / Sec flight Event
-00: 00: 03 Motor ignition command
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff
00:01:04 Max Q (moment of maximum mechanical load on Falcon 9)
00:02:44 1st step shut off of the main engine
00:02:48 1st step / 2nd step separation
00:02:50 2nd stage engine transmission
00:03:22 Fairing-deployment
00:08:16 2nd stage engine cut off 1 (SECO 1) -[Orbit is LEO x 4,000 km]
01:08:51 2nd stage engine transmission
01:09:37 2nd stage engine failure 2 (SECO 2) – [Orbit is 4,000 km x 20,000 km]
01:56:17 GPS III-SV01 deployment
06:30:00 Step 2 Destructive Reentry after rupture

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