The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a $US500 million GPS satellite, which is the US Air Force’s most powerful GPS satellite ever built, occurred at 1:51pm (local time) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.
It was SpaceX’s fifth attempt in the past week following technical and weather delays. The last planned launch was cancelled on Saturday due to strong winds.
The launch was a significant victory for Mr 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.
SpaceX sued the US Air Force in 2014 over the military’s award of a multi-billion-dollar non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed. It dropped the lawsuit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open up competition.
The next year, SpaceX won an $US83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years.
It was built to be the first of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $US12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.