SpaceX is set to launch the U.S. Space Force’s GPS III Space Vehicle 04 today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This launch was all set to take off back at the beginning of October, but was scrubbed in the final seconds. Today’s launch window spans 15 minutes, and opens at 6:24 PM EST (3:24 PM PST), with a backup opportunity tomorrow, Friday November 6 at 6:20 PM EST (3:20 PM PST).
The launch today will use a Falcon 9 first-stage that hasn’t flown previously, and SpaceX will be attempting to recover it with a landing on its drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the terms of its agreement with the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC, which was previously housed under the Air Force), SpaceX has had to use new boosters for all missions that fall under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) umbrella, including this one.
That changed in September of this year, when SpaceX and the SMC agreed that Elon Musk’s launch company could use re-flown booster stages – which is what SpaceX does for just about every other launch it flies these days. Given SpaceX’s track record with refurbished first stages, it makes sense that SMC would change their position on use of the recovered rockets.
SpaceX already launched one GPS III spacecraft for the Space Force this year – the third such satellite in the constellation, which was delivered to orbit in June.
The launch webcast will begin above at around 15 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window, so at around 6:09 PM EST (3:09 PM PST).