Pentagon Awards $97 Million to Put GPS III Satellite in Orbit

The nearly 23-chronicle rocket Falcon 9, powered by nine Merlin 1D engine, ignited and lifted off from NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A, located at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Very early Thursday morning, SpaceX had its third successful launch of 2017, establishing a one launch per month cadence as the first quarter of the year nears its end. The SpaceX satellite launch does not include a rocket landing post take-off as the satellite is particularly heavy which needs a lot of fuel for the launch. The approach was to not throw away state-of-the-art launch vehicles that cost upwards of $30 million each. The same pad was used to launch the Apollo 11 mission that conquered the moon and with his launch, EchoStar became the first commercial client to be serviced by SpaceX at LC 39A. SpaceX has received a $96.5 million contract to launch a new Global Positioning System satellite into orbit, which beat out a rival bid from the ULA, thanks to SpaceX's much lower pricetag. The SpaceX mission put EchoStar's XXIIII satellite into orbit 22,000 miles up, after a launch that occurred at 2 AM ET on Thursday.

To be fair, "competition" isn't quite the accurate term, as ULF was the only other launch provider certified to launch Air Force satellites, who turned down the opportunity to bid.

SpaceX changed how it loads high-pressure helium tanks, and the Falcon returned to flight in January with a launch of Iridium Communications satellites from California.

Elon Musk's SpaceX-a.k.a. And for the first time in two years, the private spaceflight company did not attempt to recover the rocket by landing it on ground at nearby Landing Zone 1 or at sea on an autonomous drone ship.

A camera on the Falcon 9's second stage captures the EchoStar 23 satellite as it drifts away to fly on its own after a successful launch.

"SpaceX is proud to have been selected to support this important National Security Space Mission".

Why Is The Launch Important For SpaceX? . The reiteration of Falcon 9 will possibly be the final upgrade for the rocket.

Liftoff is targeted for 1:34 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) Tuesday, the opening of a two-and-a-half-hour window. SpaceX successfully activated the pad with a February 19 flight of a Dragon capsule ferrying supplies to the International Space Station.