The launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, was delayed by a day due to a sensor problem. The payload, dubbed NROL-76, is a classified satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office. It was inserted into an unknown orbit. The NRO, which bills itself as the country’s “eyes and ears in space,” maintains and develops spy satellites.
The type of satellite is unknown, but the NRO is responsible for tracking potential threats to the U.S. such as terrorist attacks, nuclear weapons development or missile launches. SpaceX has been making progress on its mission to make space travel less expensive by recycling rockets. Last month, the company successfully launched a previously used rocket.
SpaceX has recovered 10 first stages of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets, starting in 2015. Some landed on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and others on drone ships at sea.
The NRO launch used a new rocket, but the first stage made a safe landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force station and will likely be used again for a future launch.
This was SpaceX’s fifth launch of 2017.