This is now the second SpaceX launch to be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic after the Argentinian space agency (CONAE) postponed its SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite launch.
SpaceX’s first mission for the Space Force has been significantly delayed due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. The launch was scheduled for late April and is now projected for June 30 at the earliest.
The GPS 3 satellite made by Lockheed Martin is scheduled to be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This will be the second National Security Space Launch mission for the Falcon 9 rocket and the first NSSL mission where SpaceX will attempt to recover the booster.
We do not make this decision lightly, however, given our GPS constellation remains strong, we have the opportunity to make a deliberate decision to maintain our mission assurance posture, without introducing additional health risk to personnel or mission risk to the launch, said Lt. Gen. John F Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and program executive officer for space.
The organisation decided that the current GPS constellation with 31 satellites in orbit is providing adequate services, so taking a pause in launches would not affect operations and allows the range to focus on the health of the workforce. The SMC said it still plans to complete the next three GPS launches in 2020.