SpaceX postpones secret United States spy satellite launch due to 'sensor issue'

Toby Manning
May 7, 2017

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying NROL-76, a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, rumbled aloft about 7:15 a.m. Monday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a livestream of the mission on SpaceX's website showed.

The privately-owned firm regularly launches unmanned cargo ships to the International Space Station, and is working on a crew capsule that could carry humans into orbit as early as next year.

SpaceX launched a US spy satellite into orbit Monday, then landed its first-stage rocket booster near the launchpad.

The launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, was delayed by a day due to a sensor problem.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the mission launched successfully after almost being scrubbed by strong high-altitude winds. In so doing, it fulfilled a contract with the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch a spy satellite. It is not known when SpaceX will fly its next used Falcon 9, but there are good chances that we will see previously flown first stages being used in both commercial launches and military missions at some point.

SpaceX has since won two launch contracts from the Air Force to send up Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019.

The launch that planned on Monday is the first for SpaceX since the historic SES-10 mission.

The window for the re-try today opens at 7 AM EDT (4 AM PDT) and continues for two hours after that.

SpaceX hopes to lower the cost of launches by reusing parts of the rocket.

As the Verge points out, it was the first time we've seen a long shot of the Falcon 9 separating from the second stage of the rocket and then returning directly back to earth for a ideal landing.

Prelaunch checks were fine until the Falcon 9 propellant tank pressurization began just seconds before scheduled liftoff.

No details were made public about the payload, known only as NROL-76, which was first announced past year.

Other reports by VgToday

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