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SpaceX Just Performed Its Most Mysterious Mission Yet

03 May 2017

Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has launched a spy satellite - its first such mission for the United States military - and landed the spacecraft's booster on land.

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, May 1, 2017.

The launch was supposed to have taken place on 30th April but has to be stopped at the last minute due to a bad sensor.

SpaceX has postponed the launch of a secretive USA government payload known only as NROL-76 due to a "sensor issue" with the rocket, a spokesman said.

The Falcon 9 blasted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a top-secret spy satellite in its payload compartment that was commissioned by the National Reconnaissance Office. More reflights are possible this year, and SpaceX has leased a Port Canaveral facility to accommodate what Musk has said is a growing "forest of rocket boosters".

In March, SpaceX successfully re-launched a used booster - or "flight proven", in SpaceX terminology - for the first time for a commercial satellite mission.

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As John Federspiel, the MC for the livestream event, says after the successful touchdown, "Another good day for us at SpaceX". Shear winds can blow so hard they can slightly bend a rocket and overwhelm its steering system's ability to keep a launch on-course.

This launch marks the SpaceX's first mission for the Pentagon. And less than 10 minutes after the launch, SpaceX remotely controlled the first stage booster using thrusters, grid fins and landing legs, to land the rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX also achieved one of its defining endeavors: landing the rocket safely back on Earth. The most expensive portion of SpaceX's Falcon 9 - which has a sticker price of $62 million - is the first-stage booster, which accounts for up to 70% of the cost, according to Musk.

SpaceX made company history a few weeks ago, where the company flew one of its Falcon 9 rockets for the first time. The contract was first announced a year ago.

SpaceX is officially in the government satellite launch business.