SpaceX forced to scrub Falcon 9 rocket launch

Owen Stevens
May 6, 2017

A SpaceX Falcon rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday to boost a classified spy satellite into orbit for the USA military then turned around and touched down at a nearby landing pad.

But SpaceX broke the monopoly in 2015, when the U.S. Air Force certified its Falcon 9 rocket to launch national security space missions.

SpaceX launched a top-secret spy satellite for the US Department of Defense on Monday and then successfully landed the booster for recycling.

The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Monday morning from its NASA-leased pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the second attempt of this national security mission for SpaceX, who scrubbed yesterday's launch when only one minute was left in Falcon 9's take-off.

The mission marks the first time SpaceX has been contracted to launch an NRO satellite into orbit.

SpaceX has since won two launch contracts from the Air Force to send up Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019. However, the attempt to land back the Falcon 9 rocket is allowed to be filmed and photographed.

Declassified in 1992, the once-secret NRO oversees the United States' fleet of spy satellites, which have conducted dozens of classified missions. SpaceX did recover another first stage booster, though.

The DoD has previously stated that it wants ULA to compete directly against SpaceX for military and intelligence launch contracts.

Although very little is known about the payload on board NROL-76, we do know what the main mission of the NRO is. This is a super secretive U.S military launch mission and no details on the payload called "NROL-76" have been made public. The Hawthorne-based company has done four recoveries at LZ-1 now, with the first being about 18 months ago.

Falcon 9 is 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 and " was designed from the beginning for maximum reliability", the company said.

Other reports by VgToday

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