Space X is scheduled to make its first military launch on Sunday, with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. National Reconnaissance Office is in charge of making and operating spy satellites for the United States. No details, however, were shared to the public about the payload, known only as NROL-76, which was already announced last year.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to blast NROL-76 into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida during a two-hour launch window which will start on Sunday at 7 am ( 1100 GMT). Around 10 minutes after launch, the first stage which is the tall portion of the rocket will power its engines and fly back toward the Earth to make a controlled landing on solid grounds at Space X's Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.
Such attempt is part of SpaceX's effort to make rocket parts recyclable rather than throwing the costly components after each launch. Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk heads this California-based company which has already made several successful landings on solid ground and on platforms floating in the screen.
The U.S. military has been spending billions per year exclusively until now with United Launch Alliance which is a joint operation between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin to launch government satellites. SpaceX filed a suit against the U.S. Air Force in 2014 arguing that it unfairly awarded billions of dollars to a single company for national security launches.
Despite the lawsuit, SpaceX also has a pair of launch contracts in the offing for the Air Force to send GPS satellites into orbit. If the launch on Sunday will not push through or will be postponed for whatever reason, another launch window opens on May 1.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 with the primary objective of reducing space transportation costs. SoaceX has since developed the Falcon launch vehicle family and the Dragon spacecraft family, which both currently deliver payloads into Earth orbit.