SpaceX Successfully Launches NROL-76 Military Payload Into Orbit
Ron Perillo / 4 weeks ago
SpaceX has successfully completed its latest launch, carrying its classified military payload dubbed NROL-76 into orbit and also successfully landing and recovering the Falcon 9 rocket used for the launched. The launch was originally scheduled for Sunday, April 30 but had to be called off due to a sensor issue just 52 seconds before liftoff. The launch was eventually performed early Monday although even that was almost scrubbed due to high altitude wind velocity, as Elon Musk himself stated on Twitter.
Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good. Tough call, as high altitude wind shear was at 98.6% of the theoretical load limit. pic.twitter.com/nBzBMNdjBp
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2017
The NROL-76 payload is SpaceX’ first big contract for the US military via the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) and is presumed to be a spy satellite. SpaceX could not disclose what exactly the payload was due to its classified nature but they have broadcasted the launch from LC-39A facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and cut off the transmission shortly after the fairing separation.
They have resumed broadcast for the eventual landing of the Falcon 9 rocket at LZ-1 near Cape Canaveral however. The rocket will be refurbished for later use, with SpaceX working on narrowing the refurbishing time down to just 24-hours after recovery. This event marks the fourth time SpaceX has successfully recovered a launched rocket.