(NEWSER) – SpaceX had a big morning: It successfully launched its first government satellite and got its rocket to return safely to Earth to boot. The company sent up the spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 7:15am from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, reports USA Today. Nine minutes later, the rocket returned to Cape Canaveral. Details of the spy satellite’s mission are classified, reports Space.com, which adds that about the only thing known is that it will be in a low-Earth orbit.
The Orlando Sentinel sees Monday’s launch as a milestone because SpaceX has previously focused on cargo missions to the International Space Station or commercial telecom satellites. The launch of a government payload, then, marks the start of a new era of competition between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, which had cornered the market on government launches in recent years… see more