October 17, 2021

Photos: Falcon 9 rocket poised for first national security flight


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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is being readied for launch with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office early Sunday, the commercial launcher’s 33rd overall flight, and first dedicated to a U.S. government national security mission.

The two-stage rocket stood vertical on launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday evening as photographers set up remote cameras to document the liftoff.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9’s second stage will place the top secret payload into orbit, while the first stage booster will attempt to return to Landing Zone 1 at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for refurbishment and potential reuse.

Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now
Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

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