SpaceX Successfully Launches SpySat Mission for US Government After Delay Due to Sensor Problems
SpaceX maybe opening a new flow of top-secret government mission. After reschuduling the launch of its first SpySat mission for the U.S. National Defense due to sensor problem, Elon Musk's space company has successfully launched the secret payload earlier today.
Elon Musk's brainchild, SpaceX, announced that they will launch a SpySat cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) -- a first for the commercial spaceflight company. ULA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing executed former NRO and U.S. National Defense missions.
"It's a very big deal," Justin Karl, program coordinator of Commercial Space Operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. "For government orbital launches, there are very few flight provider options. That is a huge segment of a changing market they have potentially captured."
The SpySat, called NROL-76, was sent to orbit by SpaceX this Monday, May 1, after the original launch set last Sunday, April 30, was scraped. There's not a lot of information available about the top secret cargo. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the historic launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.
CNN reported that according to NRO, the SpySat payload might be used in tracking terrorists and monitoring nuclear weapons. Unlike the last SpaceX mission, the company will attempt to land the booster back in Cape Canaveral.
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
Reports say that live streaming is prohibited for the mission. Prohibiting the live streaming will help the government conceal more information about the payload and where exactly it is going. This means less exposure for SpaceX whose missions are almost, always captured on video whether they are successful or not. However, the attempt to land back the Falcon 9 rocket is allowed to be filmed and photographed.
According to The Verge, the rocket was given a window from 7:15 a.m. until 9 a.m. to launch. The weather seemed to cooperate as there were no further delays on the top secret SpaceX SpySat launch.