SpaceX launches next-gen GPS satellite for US Space Force, lands rocket

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched an advanced GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force on Thursday (Nov. 5), marking the first launch in nearly two weeks here on the Space Coast. 

One of the company's two-stage Falcon 9 rockets blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here at 6:24 p.m. EST (2324 GMT), carrying the GPS III-SV04 satellite to orbit. Nine minutes later, the rocket's first stage touched down on the deck of "Of Course I Still Love You," one of SpaceX's two drone ships. 

The GPS III-SV04 mission had been set to follow on the heels of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which was scheduled to loft a U.S. spy satellite from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday (Nov. 3). However, the Atlas V launch was delayed twice due to issues with ground systems equipment. ULA is now targeting Friday (Nov. 6) for that liftoff.

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