SpaceX has been awarded five of the six GPS III satellite launch contracts which total $470 million.
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Elon Musk’s SpaceX will reuse a Falcon 9 booster to launch a national security satellite into orbit this Thursday, according to CNBC. It’s the same rocket booster that launched the GPS III SV04 satellite last November.
Dr. Walter Lauderdale, deputy mission director of U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC) says significant work has led to this milestone:
“In preparation for this first time event we’ve worked closely with SpaceX to understand the refurbishment processes and are confident that this rocket is ready for its next flight,” he said.
The government’s traditional practice was to discard boosters in the ocean and use new rockets, but SpaceX designs its boosters to land and be reusable.
Last year, SMC modified contracts with SpaceX to reuse its boosters for the next two GPS III satellite launches. It’s a change that will save approximately $64 million, according to the military.
Lauderdale is also optimistic about future flights:
“We continue to work with [SpaceX] and, looking ahead to the SV06 mission next year … we’ll be working with them as to what boosters are available,” said Dr. Lauderdale. “We are certainly open to using other boosters not just ones that have flown [for Space Force].”
SpaceX is set to launch the GPS III SV05 satellite on Thursday from Florida.