Cape Canaveral, Florida – SpaceX The United States launched a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Saturday (19 December), which is its 26th missile for this year.
The mysterious payload, called NROL-108, took off from Pad 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 9 a.m. (1400 GMT), during a planned three-hour launch window.
Two stages are used Falcon 9 rocket He carried the spy satellite aloft, as part of a government mission called NROL-108, to mark the 26th 2020 launch of SpaceX, a new record for the company. After nearly nine minutes of takeoff, the first stage of the booster produced some massive sonic booms as it returned to the Solid ground, Landed in SpaceX’s Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1) at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Video: Watch the landing of the epic NROL-108 Falcon 9 missile from SpaceX
Related: Watch the evolution of SpaceX rockets in pictures
Today’s flight was the fifth launch of this first stage of Falcon 9. The booster, designated B1059, delivered two former commercial cargo missions to the NASA International Space Station, and delivered A batch of SpaceX Starlink satellites Into orbit earlier this year, and more recently Launched an Earth Observation Satellite for Argentina.
The Falcon 9 blasted off in a clear blue sky on Saturday morning, in a stark change from the launch bid on Thursday. Dense clouds covered the missile from view that day and at the end Issue With the second stage of the missile, SpaceX was forced to delay the launch.
Several minutes after the Falcon 9 jumped off the platform, the first stage of the rocket resurfaced into the sky, with the iconic sound-piercing boom you’d expect cracked as the booster descended to the landing position.
The B1059 is the second booster aircraft to land on the Cape (as opposed to a drone ship at sea) this year. (One-third landed to the ground at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California afterward The Sentinel-6 Earth Observation Satellite Launched In fact, it is now the third flight to the LZ-1 for this boost, as the first stage of the Falcon 9 has also returned to Earth after the delivery of the CRS-20 mission into orbit earlier this year.
Related: Take a trip into space (and back) on Falcon 9 in this great video
Today’s Falcon 9 launch carried a classified payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the government agency that oversees the nation’s fleet of spy satellites. Little is known about the satellite except for the fact that the NRO has secured top-secret cargo rides through unconventional means.
Usually, the Reconnaissance Agency will secure its flights into space through the National Security Space Launch Program of the US Space Forces, but this time it did so on its own. According to a report by Spaceflight Now.
“In some cases, the NRO uses alternative methods of procuring launch services after a cumulative assessment of satellite risk tolerance, required launch dates, available launch capabilities, and cost – all with the aim of ensuring that satellites are safely and securely delivered into orbit in a timely manner,” Spaceflight Now spokesperson.
Another interesting development is that SpaceX did not perform a steady fire test of its missile prior to flight. Typically, the company installs the missile on the platform and launches the nine first-stage engines briefly to ensure that its systems are operating as expected before takeoff. It’s rare that SpaceX skips this routine test but no one has heard of it.
The mission marks the sixth launch of the NRO this year, and will be the second overall on board the SpaceX Falcon 9. The first The mission was NROL-76 in May 2017.
NROL-108’s mission is to return SpaceX’s 50th light to its Falcon 9 spacecraft since the company recovered its first booster in 2015. It also marks the 70th landing of the Falcon 9 Falcon 9. To maintain the descent, the booster detached from its upper stage and performed a series of ballet moves Orbital, reorienting itself for landing. She then performed a series of three engine burns to slow herself enough to gently touch her allotted landing pad, marking 21 successful landings on the ground for SpaceX.
To facilitate reuse, the company usually relies on its two massive unmanned ships, called “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read the Instructions”. Floating platforms are usually stationed in the Atlantic Ocean and have enabled SpaceX to launch and then land more. Rockets.
“Of Course I Still Love You” has been sidelined for this mission, as the booster returns to Earth, while “Just Read the Instructions” is currently returning a batch of the company’s latest release on Dce. 13 – For that mission, the Falcon 9 missile was launched for the seventh time, Carries a huge satellite into space for the SIrius XM. This booster is one of two of the seven voyages that must sail back into port around the same time as the day’s launch.
Once they return to Port Canaveral, Florida, the deployed reinforcements are transported to SpaceX’s facilities, where they are carefully checked and redirected to flight again.
The current iteration of Falcon 9 was completed in 2018. It is known as Block 5It features 1.7 million pounds of thrust plus some other upgrades that make it capable of rapid reuse. SpaceX says each of these reinforcements can fly up to 10 times with minor revamps in between, and possibly as many as 100 times before retirement.
So far, SpaceX has launched and has landed the same booster a maximum of seven times. According to the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, each Falcon 9 is capable of flying at least 10 times with minimal refurbishment between flights. We haven’t seen a single fly many times yet, but we can see it next year.
Prior to today’s launch, SpaceX published one of its twin smoothing holders, GO Ms. Tree, to bring in streamlined pieces after today’s launch. The GO Miss Chief, the company’s other recovery ship, remained in port for the second consecutive mission. These two boats act as gigantic, mobile cargo hunting gloves – the protective nose cones that surround the satellites during launch – in the nets attached to them as they descend to Earth.
To this end, SpaceX has installed special parachutes and software in the payload cruise, which consists of two connected pieces. The fairings are designed to orient themselves into the recovery area where Lady Tree and Lady Chief can wait to park them while they return to Earth. If the boats are lost or the weather is too bad to attempt fishing, the duo have equipment on board to take the gift pieces out of the water and return them to the port for regeneration.
The company has successfully reused the payload display, and the last mission – which launched the Sirius XM-7 satellite – was the first flight to contain a refurbished gift on a non-SpaceX payload. The company usually reuses fairings on its Starlink missions. One of the pieces that covered the Sirius XM-7 payload as it traveled through the atmosphere had previously flown on the Anasis-II mission earlier this summer, which launched a communications satellite for the South Korean military.
Today’s mission will mark the end of a busy year for the KEP launch. In total, 31 missions were launched from the region this year, 26 of which were on SpaceX missiles. Next year, SpaceX is expected to continue filling its fleet of Starlink satellites, launching two additional missions for astronauts, and one of its heavy cranes, namely Falcon Heavy.
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