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SpaceX launches first US national security space mission

  • 23 Dec 2018

Falcon 9 rocket launched by billionaire Elon Musk's company carries US Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the US Air Force said. ( @SpaceX/Twitter )

A SpaceX rocket carrying a US military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Sunday, marking the space transportation company's first national security space mission for the United States.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 am local time (1351 GMT).

The successful launch is a significant victory for Elon Musk's privately held rocket company, which has spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.

The satellite is the first to launch out of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III programme, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.

The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said.

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