ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 17 (UPI) — SpaceX plans to conduct the company’s second spy satellite mission, NROL-108 for the U.S. government, Thursday morning from Florida.
Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket is planned at 9:45 a.m. from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, but the launch could be as late as noon. The U.S. Space Force forecasts a 30 percent chance that wind or thick clouds could cause a delay.
SpaceX plans to land the first-stage booster of the rocket on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, about 10 miles south of the launch site.
SpaceX first launched a U.S. spy satellite, NROL-76, in May 2017 for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is part of the Department of Defense. Most such missions been conducted in recent years by United Launch Alliance.
The government says very little about such classified missions, except that the rocket is carrying a “national security payload designed, built and operated by the agency … to provide intelligence data to the United States’ senior policymakers, intelligence agencies and the defense department.”
The National Reconnaissance Office’s mission is to provide information for intelligence requirements, research and development, and to assist in emergency and disaster relief.
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew-1 lifts off from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo