SpaceX regularly sends unmanned cargo ships to the International Space Station and continues to develop a capsule for the crew capable of bringing people into orbit as early as next year.
On Monday, SpaceX launched with a US government satellite. This is a secret object, of which only the name is known - NROL-76. For the company of Ilona Mask, this was the first military delivery.
The payload for the National Intelligence Agency, creating and operating spy satellites for the United States, took off on a Falcon 9 rocket. 10 minutes after launch, the first stage returned to Earth and made a safe landing at Cape Canaveral. In the list of companies this is the 4th successful landing operation.
“There is a touchdown,” a SpaceX commentator said live. “The first stage landed in Zone 1. Another great day for us at SpaceX. Great sight. ”
The first and second stages of the rocket were recorded on the video of the launch. The first performed a light arc and turned on nitrogen engines to return to the surface in the center of the 91-meter landing zone. Now the company is trying to do everything to hone the technique of reuse of expensive parts, and not to get rid of them in the ocean, spending huge sums on each launch.
The launch was planned for Sunday, but in the last seconds I had to postpone the date to Monday, as there were problems with the rocket sensor. SpaceX commentator described the cargo in one word - “satellite”, trying not to disclose any details.
Up to this point, the US military had contacted only the United Launch Alliance - a joint mission of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. But after a SpaceX suit in 2004, they were able to achieve increased cooperation. Of course, the lawsuit did not become the main reason for the victory, as the company was chosen for launch by fair competition. About the signed contract told last year.
SpaceX also has several contracts to launch GPS satellites for the Air Force.