SpaceX to launch classified US govt payload

James Marshall
May 15, 2017

No details were divulged about the newly launched NRO satellite.

Space X has also won two more contracts from the US Air Force to send up Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 an 2019. 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.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifts off Monday, May 1, 2017, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon 9's simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events - and with nine first stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.

The spy satellite, known as NROL-76, was to have been launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX launch is big industry news, as it signals a competitive bidding process on national security contracts.

The aerospace company said the launch had initially been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed in the last seconds before take-off due to a "sensor issue" with the rocket. The most expensive portion of SpaceX's Falcon 9 - which has a sticker price of $62 million - is the first-stage booster, which accounts for up to 70% of the cost, according to Musk.

Winds aloft are unusually high (still within structural safety bounds). SpaceX and the NRO did not respond to requests for comment about that launch's payload. ULA, run by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has had a monopoly on military missions to space for years.

After a false start Sunday, SpaceX will try again to launch its first standalone satellite for the government on Monday morning.

In 2014, SpaceX filed suit against the US Air Force, arguing that it unfairly awarded billions of dollars to a single company.

The company has successfully landed rockets at the cape three times previously, and six times on a drone ship at sea.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article