Spaceflight Insider

SpaceX set to launch third GPS-III satellite, SV03


The GPS III Space Vehicle 03 payload is safely encapsulated and awaiting liftoff, set to fly on June 30, 2020 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. Photo: Matt Haskell, SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX is poised to launch the next satellite in the GPS-III series atop its proven Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday, marking the newest launch of the new satellite constellation.

This flight marks the third for the new GPS-III constellation, the first having been flown by SpaceX in December, and second by United Launch Alliance, during the retirement flight of the Delta IV Medium rocket. Built by Lockheed Martin, #GPSIII is a new series of 10 satellites, offering significant improvement over the previous generation of satellites, GPS-2F; improvements include 8 times the jamming resistance capability, and a signal 3 times as accurate. With a design life of 25 years, the satellites also have a lifespan 25% longer than the previous generation. The new satellites also serve to maintain the active lifespan of the Navstar Global Positioning System, a constellation of 31 operational satellites.

Falcon9 Booster 1060.1 awaits liftoff of the GPSIIISV03 mission, June 30, 2020. Photo: Theresa Cross, SpaceFlight Insider

Unique to this launch is a special dedication by the 45th Space Wing, honoring the late Space Force Colonel Thomas Falzarano, Commander of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, who recently passed away after 26 years of dedicated service to the country, the USAF, and space flight. In honor of his passing, the 45th Space Wing has decided to dedicate this launch to his memory, and will feature a tribute to his memory on their FaceBook and media channels approximately 30 minutes before launch.

The launch is scheduled for 3:56pm EST, and will feature an offshore recovery attempt on the companies newly upgraded drone ship,  “Just Read The Instructions,” which was used for the successful recovery of Starlink L7 following a lengthy period of upgrade, which included a transfer from the Vandenberg west coast launch site.

The latest weather reports for today’s launch indicate a 60 percent chance of go, with the concerns for violation citing the cumulus cloud rule, anvil cloud rule, and surface electricity field level rule.

Stay tuned to Spaceflight Insider for continued updates on the launch and the GPS program.

GPS-III SV03 payload fairing, atop Falcon 9 B1060.1. Photo: Theresa Cross, SpaceFlight Insider


Matt Haskell is a published aviation and spaceflight photographer and writer based in Merritt Island Florida. Born and raised outside Edwards Air Force Base and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, he moved to Florida’s Space Coast and began photographing and reporting spaceflight professionally full time in 2018.

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