SpaceX Launches Secret
May 2, 2017
Chalk up another win for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which successfully launched
a secret spy satellite for a U.S. government agency early Monday.
The launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, was
delayed by a day due to a sensor problem. The payload, dubbed NROL-76,
is a classified satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office. It
was inserted into an unknown orbit.
The NRO, which bills itself as the country’s “eyes and ears in space,”
maintains and develops spy satellites.
The type of satellite is unknown, but the NRO is responsible for
tracking potential threats to the U.S. such as terrorist attacks,
nuclear weapons development or missile launches.
has been making progress on its mission to make space travel less
expensive by recycling rockets. Last month, the company successfully
launched a previously used rocket.
SpaceX has recovered 10 first stages of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets,
starting in 2015. Some landed on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, and others on drone ships at sea.
The NRO launch used a new rocket, but the first stage made a safe
landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force station and will likely be used
again for a future launch.
This was SpaceX’s fifth launch of 2017.