SpaceX launched its first-ever mission for the U.S. Department of Defense today (May 1), and a set of videos and photos document the historic flight in spectacular detail.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) today with the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 satellite aboard.
Less than 3 minutes into flight, the booster's two stages separated. While the second stage continued carrying NROL-76 toward its classified destination in low-Earth orbit, the first stage performed engine burns to prep for a touchdown at SpaceX's "Landing Zone 1," a facility at the Cape. Space.com
This is great stuff. Falcon 9's first stage booster came home safely once again. Space X, IMO, goes from strength to strength. The re-usable booster is a pre-requisite to commercial space enterprise. The reduction in costs is large. Commercial business in space has to be a real business with a real balance sheet if it is to be viable. Even for the US government the reduction in cost in putting this recon satellite in orbit must be large. pl