SpaceX launched a top-secret spy satellite for the US government at 7:15 a.m. ET, and then successfully landed the booster for recycling. The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Watch the launch of the rocket here!
Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up for maximum reliability. 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.
Needless to say, SpaceX has further refined its ability to deliver objects into space and then land its reusable rockets. It was SpaceX’s first mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. No details have been given out about the newly launched NRO satellite. SpaceX aims to return most of its boosters for reuse.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been performing these landings for a while now. And here’s why! The whole point is to eventually create a fleet of reusable rockets that can fly multiple missions to orbit and come back home. Reusing rockets will eventually help in decreasing the cost of launching them into space, allowing governments, private players, and common man have more access to orbit.
The launch was SpaceX’s fifth this year, continuing its rebound from a launch pad rocket explosion last summer that grounded the company for the last four months of 2016. This was the fourth SpaceX booster landing at Cape Canaveral, as some of them have landed on ocean platforms.