SpaceX Launches 'Spy' Satellite On A Secret Mission For The US Military
02:18, May 13, 2017
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Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has launched a spy satellite - its first such mission for the USA military - and landed the spacecraft's booster on land.
It was the first time the aerospace manufacturing company has launched a rocket for the USA military - carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which makes and operates spy satellites for the United States.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) SpaceX launched a top-secret spy satellite for the USA government Monday morning and then successfully landed the booster for recycling.
Other rocket launchers typically discard their boosters once they crash back to earth, but SpaceX's onboard computers safely landed the hardware on a 300ft platform in the Kennedy Space Center.
The launch was initially planned for Sunday, but it was postponed in the last seconds before lift-off because of a sensor issue with the rocket, SpaceXsaid.
Two years ago, SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force after it awarded an exclusive sole-source launch contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA).
The flight appeared to be off to a good start, but SpaceX cut off its launch broadcast a few minutes into the flight to help preserve its secrecy, as is standard practice during NRO missions, USA Monday reported.
The privately owned firm, based in Hawthorne, California, has a backlog of more than 70 missions, worth about $10 billion. But the upper-level wind at liftoff was "unusually high".
The Falcon 9 rocket returned to the base to cheers from mission control, landing upright in the fourth successful solid ground landing for the company.
With that in mind, NROL-76 is the latest spy satellite to join the network, and likely includes a number of satellite tech innovations we'll never hear about.
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