SpaceX successfully launched one of its Falcon 9 carrier rockets with a US intelligence satellite on board on Sunday, broadcasting the launch live.
The launch took place at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 9:13am local time (9:43pm IST). The rocket is putting into orbit the NROL-85 mission for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The mission’s details have not been made public.
The rocket’s first stage has already landed in the vicinity of the launch site. This is its second launch as it was previously used for putting another intelligence satellite into orbit.
The NRO is a US government agency that develops, builds, launches and operates US spy satellites that provide intelligence data to the 18 agencies comprising the US intelligence community and the Defense Department.
Last week, SpaceX also launched the first fully private mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in collaboration with Axiom Space, a Houston based startup. The four-member all-private crew of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) was led by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who has flown to space four times before. The Ax-1 crew was greeted by the Expedition 67 crew on the ISS. The ISS is expected to be decommissioned by 2031, and NASA hopes that a privately owned station will be able to take its place. The Axiom astronauts will be in orbit for around 10 days before their return journey to Earth.
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