SpaceX launches US spy satellite; Falcon 9 lands at Cape Canaveral

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 19 (UPI) – SpaceX launched the company’s second satellite spy mission for the U.S. government Saturday morning.

The Falcon 9 rocket was picked up at 9 a.m. EST from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The pay fairy parted about 2 1/2 minutes after picking up.

The Falcon 9 rocket was reused at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station about 8 1/2 minutes after take-off – the fifth time for this special upgrade and the 70th time for the Falcon 9 to date.

SpaceX shortened an effort previously launched Thursday due to a slightly weighted reading in a high-level smelting oxygen tank on the rocket. The countdown stopped at 1 minute, 53 seconds before launch.

Andy Tran, production director of SpaceX avionics, said at a live broadcast Thursday that the rocket and payload were in good condition despite the downside.

The first U.S. spy satellite, NROL-76, was launched in May 2017 for the National Audit Office, which is part of the Department of Defense. Most such missions were carried out a few years ago by the United Launch Alliance.

The government says very little about classified missions such as their launch on Sunday, except that the rocket carries “national security payloads designed, built and operated by the agency. … to provide intelligence data to key U.S. policymakers, agency intelligence and the defense sector. ”

SpaceX’s live stream of Sunday’s launch didn’t include a film of satellite usage due to its classified nature.

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