SpaceX Launches Spy Satellite Into Orbit
- Author: Carolyn Briggs May 06, 2017,
May 06, 2017, 19:47
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted in a tweet that high-altitude winds during Monday's launch nearly exceeded the rocket's capability.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took flight into a partly cloudy sky from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday at 7:15 a.m. ET, delivering a secret satellite for a USA spy agency to orbit before turning around and heading back to Earth for a picture ideal daylight landing at the Cape. The most expensive portion of SpaceX's Falcon 9 - which has a sticker price of $62 million - is the first-stage booster, which accounts for up to 70% of the cost, according to Musk. Instead, SpaceX focused its webcast on the successful touchdown of the first-stage booster.
Few details have been released about NROL-76, a satellite designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office under the Department of Defence.
The company has conducted nine resupply missions to the International Space Station under NASA contracts since 2012.
Musk battled for years to break the monopoly on the military's launch business held by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Chalk up another win for Elon Musk's SpaceX, which successfully launched a secret spy satellite for a USA government agency early Monday.
SpaceX received certification to launch satellites for the U.S. Air Force in 2015.
No destination was specified for the United States government satellite, known only as NROL-76, due to the secretive nature of the NRO.
The launch was originally supposed to be for Sunday, but the mission was postponed due to an issue with one of the first stage sensors.
SpaceX normally divulges footage from the entirety of its missions, but the company curtailed the broadcast shortly after take-off.
The company said it will attempt another launch at 11.00am GMT on Monday.
SpaceX launched its first spy satellite on May 1, 2017. Now, the rocket company is ready to try a second time on Monday morning to launch its first major national security payload.