SpaceX Successfully Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission -- Could This End United Launch Alliance's Monopoly?

May 02, 2017 12:33 PM EDT

A SpaceX Falcon rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, May 1, to lift a United States military spy satellite into space. The rocket also marked a successful landing at a nearby pad.

According to a report from, this mission is SpaceX's first flight with the Department of Defense. The classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is also significant as it was able to cut United Launch Alliance's 10-year monopoly on U.S. military and national security satellite launches.

There are upcoming bids for up to 13 more military satellite launches, and SpaceX is hoping to become a major player in this industry.

After two years of review by the U.S. Air Force, the Elon Musk-owned company got its certification for military satellite launches in 2015, according to a report from The Verge. Since then, SpaceX won two contracts from the Air Force.

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No details on this newly launched spy satellite were divulged. Unlike commercial flights, NRO launches often feature broadcasts that are cut short in order to keep the confidentiality of where the satellite is going or what its purpose is.

Despite its confidentiality, Elon Musk's SpaceX continues to explore new frontiers with its rockets. Just several weeks ago, SpaceX made history by sending the same first-stage rocket booster to space for a second mission, according to a report from CNN Money. It marked the first time that an orbital class rocket made two full trips to space.

Using the same first-stage rocket booster allowed Musk and the rest of the company to save about 70 percent of the cost of building a rocket from scratch. It proved that recycling can actually be effective in space flights, although the booster is not going to be used a third time.

For Earth Day, the SpaceX team posted a stunning photo of Earth from this historic SES-10 mission.

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