SpaceX Launches US Military Spy Satellite


"Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good", CEO Musk said on Twitter. It hoisted a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, marking the first time in USA history that a commercial company has sent a spy satellite into orbit.

Declassified in 1992, the once-secret NRO oversees the United States' fleet of spy satellites, which have conducted dozens of classified missions.

"I can tell you that everyone of our launches, everyone of our payloads we put up in space brings new, incredible 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 launch of the National Reconnaissance Office satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida was scheduled for 4 a.m. California time.

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About 10 minutes after launch, the scorched first stage of the rocket came back to Earth and landed upright at Cape Canaveral, marking the fourth successful solid ground landing for SpaceX. The first stage was successfully brought down on land, as opposed to many landings that have to take place on SpaceX's drone ship. That means residents will hear sonic booms.

This launch has great symbolic significance for SpaceX, since it's the 15-year-old company's first mission for the Pentagon.

SpaceX previously landed a first stage booster at Landing Zone 1 three times.

High altitude wind shear was also near the limit for Monday's launch, with Musk tweeting it was "98.6% of the theoretical load limit" but "not a showstopper".

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But with increasingly provocative statements and actions coming from North Korea, the emphasis is on military deterrence. As allies of Japan and South Korea, the White House has briefed the government on the escalating issues with Pyongyang.

Sunday's launch attempt was called off with just under a minute remaining in the countdown to a planned 7:15 a.m. blastoff.

The mission patch, according to the National Reconnaissance Office, depicted Lewis and Clark peering through a spyglass and holding a musket, "heading into the great unknown to discover and explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory".

SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force in 2014 over its exclusive multi-billion-dollar contract with United Launch Alliance.

The launch on Monday marks SpaceX's fifth successful mission this year after a pre-launch failure led to a launch pad exploding moments test fire in 2016.

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