SpaceX launched a top-secret spy satellite for the U.S. government Monday morning and then successfully landed the booster for recycling.
The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from its NASA-leased pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It was SpaceX’s first mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. No details were divulged about the newly launched NRO satellite. Instead, SpaceX focused its webcast on the successful touchdown of the first-stage booster.
The leftover booster — its job done — landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station several minutes after liftoff. Sonic booms rattled the area, serving as a Monday morning wake-up call. Across the country, cheers erupted at SpaceX Mission Control at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
WATCH: SpaceX’s webcast of the launch and return of first-stage rocket.
SpaceX strives to return most of its boosters for reuse. The company’s first recycled rocket flew last month. This was the fourth SpaceX booster landing at Cape Canaveral; even more have landed on ocean platforms.
Being able to reuse first-stage rockets is one of SpaceX’s stated priorities as it moves towards making commercial space more affordable.
SpaceX announced on February 27 they intend to transport the first two private citizens on a trip to the moon – and back – sometime in 2018. If successful, it will be the first manned mission to Earth’s moon since 1972.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said via Twitter that both the launch and landing on Monday morning were good. But the upper-level wind at liftoff was “unusually high.”
“Tough call, as high altitude wind shear was at 98.6 percent of the theoretical load limit,” he said in a tweet. Earlier in the morning, he noted about the wind, “Worrying, but not a showstopper.”
Sunday’s launch attempt was foiled at the last minute by a bad sensor.
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Story includes content from The Associated Press