SpaceX successfully launched its first U.S. national security payload Monday morning after having aborted the launch Sunday just 52 seconds before ignition.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on time, without issue and the first stage returned to earth and landed exactly in the center of the pad at landing area one.
The classified payload belongs to the National Reconnaissance Office but not much is known about the NROL-76 satellite. In fact, spaceX’s normal launch coverage shows both the stage one return and the stage two delivery phases of the flight. Monday’s launch had the payload delivery portion blacked out due to national security concerns.
The successful launch effectively breaks United Launch Alliance’s monopoly on government payload launches. The ensuing bidding war will likely lead to cheaper launch costs for American taxpayers.