The first 10 spacecraft for a planned U.S. military mega-constellation launched from California Sunday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, setting in place the keystone for a multibillion-dollar network of hundreds of small satellites to improve defenses against hypersonic missiles and other emerging threats.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket at 7:29 a.m. PDT (10:29 a.m. EDT; 1429 UTC) Sunday from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California with 10 missile tracking and data relay satellites for the U.S. military’s Space Development Agency. The launch occurred three days after SpaceX aborted the first launch attempt at T-minus 3 seconds to examine data from one of the Falcon 9’s main engines.
United Launch Alliance launched the U.S. military’s SBIRS GEO 5 early warning satellite into orbit aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. A launch attempt Monday was scrubbed during fueling preps due to a faulty temperature sensor. Liftoff of ULA’s workhorse rocket, fitted with two strap-on solid-fueled boosters, occurred at 1:37 p.m. EDT (1737 GMT).