Published: Wed, May 03, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

Another first - SpaceX launches spy satellite, lands booster


Just a little after sunrise the Falcon 9 rocket roared off pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center Monday morning.

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.

Elon Musk announced Monday, May 1, 2017, on Twitter that SpaceX's spy satellite launch was successful.

After the launch, SpaceX landed the first stage booster at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Because SpaceX was launching at the Cape and not on a drone ship in the ocean, the company was able to track nearly every stage of the landing using cameras on the Falcon 9 booster and off.

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, which is being referred to as NROL-76, will carry a classified payload designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office.

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That mission made a mark with the first time SpaceX launch using first-stage rocket booster toward orbital space.This launch is marking a huge jump in SpaceX's goal of drastically reducing the price of spaceflight. The second stage pushed the satellite into the target orbit, but no details regarding the trajectory are available because of the secretive nature of the mission.

The launch was delayed from April 16.

The spy satellite will be used by the US National Reconnaissance Office, an agency within the Defense Department that operates the nation's spy satellites.

The rocket remains on SpaceX's Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

NROL-76 is the payload for the Monday launch. The contracts call for SpaceX to launch Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019. "The company later dropped the suit, as U.S. Air Force agreed to "[expand] the number of competitive opportunities for launch services".

"And we have touchdown", a SpaceX commentator said on a live video as cheers broke out at mission control.

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