SpaceX launches top-secret spy satellite for US government

Phillip Butler
May 4, 2017

Details of what the government satellite will be used for are classified. That sensor was replaced in time for a launch on Monday, May 1, approximately half an hour after sunrise.

The classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is also significant as it was able to cut United Launch Alliance's 10-year monopoly on USA military and national security satellite launches. Falcon 9 rocket went into the air at 07:15 (11:15 GMT).

After launching from historic pad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will separate, then come tumbling back through the atmosphere and burn up or break apart upon reentry. It is planned to land at Cape Canaveral.

The NRO says the satellite aims to survey potential threats to the United States by tracking terrorists and monitoring the development of nuclear weapons in other countries. It made a mild arc.

The nine Merlin main engines powering the flight shut down approximately two minutes 18 seconds into flight, and the lower part of the rocket separated from the Falcon 9's second stage a few seconds later.

Musk battled for years to break the monopoly on the military's launch business held by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. This company will assist in making space travel an affordable one. Unlike commercial flights, NRO launches often feature broadcasts that are cut short in order to keep the confidentiality of where the satellite is going or what its goal is. "The certification process needs to properly account for previously flown hardware to launch our national security space systems safely and securely".

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida on Monday, carrying the company's first satellite for the USA military, and breaking a 10-year monopoly held by a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Its first recycled rocket flew last month. Elon Musk is the head of this launch.

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