SpaceX launches its 1st military spy satellite, lands booster

By Jerry Hume, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, May 01, 2017, 12:23 PM EDT

SpaceX has nailed another launch and landing on Monday from the Space Coast.

  • SpaceX launches satellite, lands rocket
  • Payload is spy satellite for National Reconnaissance Office
  • SpaceX scrubbed Sunday's launch attempt due to sensor issue
  • SEE BELOW: If you missed it, you can watch the launch

At 7:15 a.m. Monday, just a little after sunrise, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared off launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, carrying a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The launch was delayed a day because of a sensor issue.

 

Landing

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

The agency wouldn't specify what the satellite would monitor, but “I can tell you that every one of our launches, every one of our payloads we put up in space brings new, amazing technology, new capabilities to our warfighters, our policy makers. All of it helps keep us safe as a nation,” the NRO's Karen Furgerson said.

It was the first time that SpaceX launched a military spy satellite, beating out competitor United Launch Alliance to fly the NRO mission.

“Competition now with launch services hopefully will bring costs down, and of course reliability is the key thing,” Ferguson said.

Less than 10 minutes after the launch, the first and second stages of the booster rocket separated, and SpaceX remotely controlled the first stage booster -- using thrusters, grid fins and landing legs -- to land the rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

This is the fourth successful landing of a rocket on land. Booster rocket returns on land create sonic booms, which can be heard as far as Orlando.

SpaceX is hoping to reuse the rockets to drive down launch costs.

The company now turns to its next launch, a British satellite set to launch in the middle part of this month. It plans to attempt a booster-rocket landing on its barge-like ship in the Atlantic Ocean.