SpaceX completes first classified mission lofting NROL-76 to orbit.
Breaking a monopoly previously held by the United Launch Alliance, SpaceX successfully launched a classified national security payload into orbit Monday morning, May 1.
Launching from LC-39A at 7:15am EDT, the Falcon 9 rocket flew downrange into the rising sun to deliver its clandestine payload. Excellent weather conditions gave tracking cameras excellent visibility of the vehicle, and the rocket’s stage separation and boostback burns were seen in detail for the first time.
Eight minutes after launch the rocket’s first stage landed at LZ-1, the fourth landing at Cape Canaveral and the tenth recovered booster overall. Elon Musk tweeted shortly after landing that the NROL-76 satellite was successfully launched, indicating nominal performance of the second stage.
Liftoff was originally scheduled for April 30 but a faulty Liquid Oxygen temperature sensor on the first stage forced launch controllers to delay the mission by 24 hours.
Watch a replay of the launch here or below: