SpaceX to launch classified US govt payload Sunday

April 29, 2017
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is poised to blast NROL-76 into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida during a two-hour launch window which opens Sunday at 7 am (1100 GMT)

SpaceX on Sunday is scheduled to make its first military launch, with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which makes and operates spy satellites for the United States.

No details were made public about the payload, known only as NROL-76, which was first announced last year.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is poised to blast NROL-76 into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida during a two-hour launch window which opens Sunday at 7 am (1100 GMT).

About 10 minutes after launch, the tall portion of the rocket, known as the first stage, will power its engines and fly back toward Earth to make a controlled landing on solid ground at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.

The attempt is part of SpaceX's effort to make rocket parts recyclable, rather than jettisoning the costly components after each launch.

The California-based company, headed by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has already made several successful landings on solid ground and on platforms floating in the ocean.

Until now, the US military has spent billions per year exclusively with United Launch Alliance, a joint operation of aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to launch government satellites.

SpaceX in 2014 filed suit against the US Air Force, saying it unfairly awarded billions of dollars to a single company for national security launches.

SpaceX also has a pair of launch contracts coming up for the Air Force to send GPS satellites into orbit.

If Sunday's launch is postponed for any reason, another launch window opens on May 1.

Explore further: SpaceX set to launch its first recycled rocket

Related Stories

SpaceX postpones rocket launch until Thursday

February 25, 2016

SpaceX postponed until Thursday a launch to propel a communications satellite into a distant orbit, followed by another attempt to guide the Falcon 9's first stage to land on an ocean platform.

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rderkis
3 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2017
Hay, how about a little transparency here! How is North Korea or Russia going to know what we are up to?
webiden
not rated yet Apr 30, 2017
Puddayrzheevuhyoo. Puhzhahloostuh, uhpstuhyahtelnuh suuhpsheetseh puhdrawbnuhstee.
Dingbone
Apr 30, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rrrander
not rated yet Apr 30, 2017
One way trip for Musk to Mars. With no provisions. Still, I guess it's better than the U.S. begging the Russians for flights.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.