SpaceX Successfully Launches US Spy Satellite

In March, SpaceX successfully re-launched a used booster - or "flight proven", in SpaceX terminology - for the first time for a commercial satellite mission.

Space Exploration Technologies' launch on Monday was completed as part of a contract between spacecraft maker Ball Aerospace (NYSE:BLL) and the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees USA spy satellites.

If any difficulties developed, a secondary launch window for the NROL-76 mission was to open at 4 a.m. Monday California time, according to SpaceX.

"I think it is good for SpaceX that they are able to get these contracts", Marr said. SpaceX has done some government work in the past, primarily involving Global Positioning System satellites.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida on Monday, carrying the company's first satellite for the United States military, and breaking a 10-year monopoly held by a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The privately owned company continued to broadcast the rocket's return flight and landing at SpaceX's nearby Landing Zone 1, where the first stage executed a successful touchdown.

United Launch Alliance, the Lockheed-Boeing partnership, was the sole company launching satellites for the military for the last 10 years. The second stage pushed the satellite into the target orbit, but no details regarding the trajectory are available because of the secretive nature of the mission. We don't know much about what was in the part of the rocket that continued to space, except that it's for the National Reconnaissance Office.

SpaceX in 2014 protested the US Air Force's practice of using only ULA, saying it unfairly awarded billions of dollars to a single company for national security launches.
SpaceX was selected to launch NROL-76 "after a competition", said the NRO spokesman.

SpaceX regularly launches unmanned cargo ships to the International Space Station and is working on a crew capsule that could carry humans into orbit as early as next year.

"Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good", said Musk.

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