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SpaceX Lands Its Falcon 9 Rocket After Launching Military Satellite

13 May 2017

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have chose to scrub today's launch".

"Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good", said Musk.

Few details have been released about NROL-76, a satellite designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office, a member of the U.S. intelligence community of an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The mission marks the first time SpaceX has been contracted to launch an NRO satellite into orbit. SpaceX once sued the USAF in federal court for the right to compete for national security missions, but now says it understands the decision in this particular case.

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As the Verge points out, it was the first time we've seen a long shot of the Falcon 9 separating from the second stage of the rocket and then returning directly back to earth for a ideal landing.

Around a month ago, private-sector space firm SpaceX launched one of its "used" rockets for the first time, taking a big leap in the direction of company founder Elon Musk's quest to drastically slash launch costs.

The launch, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, was almost postponed for a second time, according to Elon Musk - SpaceX's founder.

SpaceX's business rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, had previously nearly cornered the market for national security-related rocket launches.

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The privately owned company continued to broadcast the rocket's return flight and landing at SpaceX's nearby Landing Zone 1, where the first stage executed a successful touchdown.

The Falcon 9 was originally slated to lift off on Sunday, but was canceled at the last minute due to a sensor issue on the rocket's first stage.

NROL-76 will launch on Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket designed from the ground up by SpaceX for the reliable and cost-efficient transport of satellites and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. "Tough call, as high altitude wind shear was at 98.6 percent of the theoretical load limit".

The company later dropped the suit after the military agreed to open more launch contacts to competitive bidding.

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Since then, the California-based company has also won two contracts to launch Global Positioning System satellites for the U.S. Air Force.