15 May, 2017
The Falcon 9's first stage then made a stunning reentry into Earth's atmosphere and safely returned to Landing Zone-1.
"Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good", said Elon Musk, founder and owner of SpaceX company, on his Twitter page. The company recovered a rocket's first stage for the first time in December 2015 and accomplished this an additional nine times since then.
Elon Musk-led SpaceX is all set to launch a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) into Earth's orbit this Sunday (April 30), officials confirmed.
The launch of the National Reconnaissance Office satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida was scheduled for 4 a.m. California time.
The leftover booster - its job done - landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station several minutes after liftoff.
Until now, the U.S. 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 has since won two launch contracts from the Air Force to send up Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019.
SpaceX to was selected to launch NROL-76 'after a competition, ' said the NRO spokeswoman.
One camera even caught the first stage of the Falcon 9 as it made its flip in the air to come back for a landing after sending the secret spy satellite on its way.
When SpaceX is not landing boosters on land, they are landing them on barge-like ship, which is stationed in Port Canaveral. It will make improvement and the quirks in the first stage if any, to get it ready for another launch in any of the upcoming missions.
United Launch Alliance, the Lockheed-Boeing partnership, was the sole company launching satellites for the military for the last 10 years.
SpaceX, which is based in Hawthorne and whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp., was certified two years ago to launch national security satellites.