SpaceX Just Launched A Top-Secret Spy Satellite

And after it launched the National Reconnaissance Office satellite into orbit, the rocket booster turned around and touched back down at a nearby landing pad.

The leftover booster landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Landing Zone 1.

"I can tell you that everyone of our launches, everyone of our payloads we put up in space brings new, unbelievable technology, new capabilities to our warfighters, our policy makers, all of it helps keep us safe as a nation", said Karen Furgerson, of the NRO. The Hawthorne, Calif. -based company flew its first recovered booster last month, as Musk attempts to lower the cost of rocket launches. "Tough call, as high altitude wind shear was at 98.6 percent of the theoretical load limit". The satellite was launched to enhance the spying capabilities. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the beginning for maximum reliability.

SpaceX's business rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, had previously nearly cornered the market for national security-related rocket launches.

After a literal last-minute cancellation earlier this week, SpaceX successfully launched and landed a Falcon 9 rocket last night in Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, the attempt to land back the Falcon 9 rocket is allowed to be filmed and photographed.

Monday's launch was the fifth of more than 20 flights planned by the California-based company for this year.

Minutes before the launch, Musk had warned that "winds aloft are unusually high", calling the conditions "worrying, but not a showstopper".

For years, the market for launching US military payloads was dominated by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

NROL-76 will launch on Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket designed from the ground up by SpaceX for the reliable and cost-efficient transport of satellites and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.

  • Carolyn Briggs