For unknown reasons the NROL-76 Mission Patch depicts Lewis & Clark heading out to explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. NRO
15 May, 2017, 18:48
Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has launched a spy satellite - its first such mission for the United States military - and landed the spacecraft's booster on land.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the spacecraft is scheduled to lift off sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT or 1100 to 1300 GMT from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. This is another significant development for SpaceX, who have landed back the Falcon 9 rocket booster back on land after a successful launch - which wasn't shown in the live feed due to security reasons. During SpaceX's last launch, founder Elon Musk said the company attempted to recover the payload fairings - the nose cone on the top of the rocket that protects the payload.
Monday's launch was the 34th mission for SpaceX and the fifth of more than 20 flights planned for this year. In so doing, it fulfilled a contract with the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch a spy satellite.
After splitting from its payload, the rocket landed back to Earth at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Instead, we got to watch the first stage of the rocket spend eight minutes returning to Landing Zone 1.
When SpaceX is not landing boosters on land, they are landing them on barge-like ship, which is stationed in Port Canaveral. No details were divulged about the newly launched NRO satellite.
Yesterday might have marked SpaceX's first military launch, but we can expect more in the future. Across the country, cheers erupted at SpaceX Mission Control at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Sunday's launch attempt was foiled at the last minute by a bad sensor.
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. The contracts call for SpaceX to launch Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019.
The company is also working on a capsule that could put humans into orbit as early as next year.