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SpaceX has launched the US Air Force's most powerful GPS satellite ever built.

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday (NZT Monday), hoisting the satellite into orbit. The satellite was supposed to soar earlier in the week, but rocket concerns and then weather delayed the flight.

Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, said the next-generation GPS satellite was three times more accurate than previous versions and eight times better at anti-jamming.

It was the first in a series and nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres.

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Lockheed Martin developed the advanced GPS technology and is building the satellites at a facility near Denver.

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket prepares for launch on December 23 (NZT December 24).

JOHN RAOUX/ AP

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket prepares for launch on December 23 (NZT December 24).

The launch was Space X's 21st and final launch of the year, a record for the company started by American businessman Elon Musk.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

JOHN RAOUX/ AP

SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

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