Elon Musk's SpaceX Successfully Launches Military Rocket for US Air Force
SpaceX's Falcoln 9 rocket at liftoff (Photo: Twitter, SpaceX)

Things seemed to be turning around for maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk as his SpaceX programme has successfully launched a rocket carrying a military navigation satellite.

This success comes on the heels of Musk getting his electric car company Tesla’s Model 3’s production schedule on track as well as successfully launching multiple space transportation rockets.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying a US $500 million GPS satellite payload which was built by Lockheed Martin. Post the successful launch, Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said, “The satellite is the first to launch out of 32 more in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program.”

However, the path to this day has not been a smooth one. According to the US Air Force, this satellite was originally scheduled to launch in 2014. But production delays on both – Lockheed and SpaceX’s front pushed the launch to 2018. The actual launch of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was also pushed four times due to weather conditions.

Elon Musk also had to fight and sue the US Air Force to get a chance to compete for its contracts as it awarded most of its contracts to Lockheed Martin and Boeing which have a long-standing oligopoly in the defence and aviation sector. SpaceX dropped its lawsuit after the US Air Force said it would stop awarding non-compete tenders for some contracts. SpaceX won the contract worth US $83 million to launch the US Air Force’s GPS III satellites in 2016. The GPS III satellite launched by the Falcon9 rocket has a lifespan of 35 years.

With this launch Musk can close 2018 on a good note as the months leading up to this day have seen his leadership of SpaceX and Tesla being publicly questioned by shareholders. Musk has been sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for arbitrarily announcing on Twitter that he was taking Tesla private while he had no system in place to do so. Musk also smoked weed in a video conference with journalists which led many to call for him to step down as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.