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13 May 2017, 02:22 | Shelley Chandler
A SpaceX Falcon rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday to boost a classified spy satellite into orbit for the USA military then turned around and touched down at a nearby landing pad. We don't know much about what was in the part of the rocket that continued to space, except that it's for the National Reconnaissance Office.
The customer for the launch was the National Reconnaissance Office, a USA government agency that develops and maintains spy satellites.
The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Monday morning from its NASA-leased pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter after liftoff.
Roughly nine minutes after lifting off, the rocket's first stage returned to Earth, a feat that SpaceX first accomplished in December 2015. It's the first mission that SpaceX has done for the United States military, after receiving certification to launch satellites for the Air Force in 2015.
NEW YORK - SpaceX just launched a mysterious spy satellite toward orbit for a USA intelligence agency.
The privately owned firm, based in Hawthorne, California, has a backlog of more than 70 missions, worth about US$10 billion. But the upper-level wind at liftoff was "unusually high".
'The first stage has landed back at Landing Zone 1.
The NRO, which bills itself as the country's "eyes and ears in space", maintains and develops spy satellites.
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".
It's the first national security launch for the private space company.
SpaceX to was selected to launch NROL-76 'after a competition, ' said the NRO spokeswoman.
Despite a few weather hiccups, Monday's launch was deemed successful.
As Clark explains, heavier payloads, or those bound for higher orbits, either restrict where SpaceX can attempt a first stage landing to an ocean barge positioned downstream, or preclude a landing attempt altogether.
The company's first recycled rocket flew last month.
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