SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Sunday morning, but most of the launcher’s ascent into orbit will be under a news blackout at the request of the National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive U.S. government intelligence agency whose mission is riding on the rocket.
Working overnight on Florida’s Space Coast, SpaceX technicians transferred a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket from the company’s commercial hangar a quarter-mile up the ramp to launch pad 39A early Saturday, positioning the kerosene-fueled booster for liftoff Sunday with a classified payload for the U.S. government’s National Reconnaissance Office.
SpaceX launched a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on Monday after a first stage sensor problem halted a countdown Sunday. Liftoff from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida occurred at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT), and the first stage landed at nearby Cape Canaveral around nine minutes later. The upper stage’s flight entered a pre-planned news blackout a few minutes after launch.