NRO Opts for Private Launch Options amid Festivities

SpaceX recently confirmed the launch of its US spy satellite on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office. On December 19, 2020, the launch that took place stands to be the 26th rocket launched in 2020. According to SpaceX, the mission was dubbed NROL-108 and made a launch from NASA’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre. 

The launch took place during NASA’s prescheduled launch window spanning over three hours. This launch is a partnership with the government designated its Falcon 9 rocket to record the highest number of launches for SpaceX. The rocket was a two-stage launch that engaged the boosters at 9 minutes after liftoff to record some impressive sonic booms before slowly making it down to earth. The thrusters managed to land safely at the designated Landing Zone-1 in the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

According to records, the launch marks SpaceX’s fifth deployment designated to its Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX restated the need to reuse rockets and accomplished it through numerous satellite launches on the booster B1059. The booster recently lodged several missions into space, including SpaceX’s Starlink satellites earlier in the year together with an orbital observatory along the Argentine region

The Falcon-9 launch happened with clear skies that Saturday. The launch marked a substantial improvement following a previously failed attempt on Thursday due to a shrouded sky. Furthermore, the rocket encountered technical difficulties that inevitably caused the launch to be postponed.

However, the 19th saw favorable conditions following a prepared launch schedule. The landing pad аt the Cape records the B1059 as SpaceX’s second booster to successfully land after launch. Currently, the Cape has three totaled landing finalized by a recent touchdown from the Sentinel-6 earth observing satellite.  The launch marks LZ-1’s third trip for the booster after landing the Falcon 9 from a previous CRS-20 satellite operation

The operation was shrouded in mystery as of Thursday’s sky. The most information we received was a cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO an American government agency tasked with monitoring the country’s satellite fleet. According to reports, the mission carried cargo for the NRO that remains undisclosed 

Such a practice marks a deviation from the Space Force National Security Space Launch Program guidelines. Through designation, the agency has requirements to use specified launch protocols. However, the agency opted to go for SpaceX following prolonged research on specific factors like satellite risk tolerance, launch availability, and operational costs.

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