This marks the US-based aerospace company's first USA national security mission to date.
The first advanced, next-generation "GPS III" satellite soared into space today (Dec. 23) atop a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:51 a.m. EST (1351 GMT) after almost a week of delays. It is three times more accurate than the previous system and up to eight times stronger in its anti-jamming capability.
The hardware sent to orbit by Elon Musk's space cargo hauling company is now one of 31 operational GPS satellites used by the Air Force to deliver info about positioning, navigation, and timing to both its own and allied forces operating around the world.
Because of mission requirements, SpaceX did not attempt to retrieve the reusable Falcon 9's first stage after launch, according to SpaceX.
It took five tries, working through technical issues, severe weather and even the pressure of a vice presidential visit until, finally, a rocket cut through clear skies Sunday on the way to space.
"You've got SpaceX, Boeing, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin all vying".
The Weather Authority tracks Santa with the help of NORAD
Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa received nearly 126,000 phone calls and 18 million website hits. A Sears Roebuck & Co.ad accidentally printed the wrong number for kids to call Santa.
The rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4 at the air force base at 10:34 a.m. PST (1834 GMT).
Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX's valuation has climbed as it has racked up successful missions, making it the third-most valuable venture-backed start-up in the USA after Uber Technologies and Airbnb.
The next satellite is due to launch in mid-2019.
It is the first in a series, nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres. The launch had been rescheduled earlier in the week because of the weather.
This morning's launch was originally scheduled to occur on Tuesday (Dec. 18), but SpaceX called off that attempt after receiving an "out of family" reading from sensors on the Falcon 9's first stage.
The company stated that this very launch was the 21st as well as the final year of the launch.