NROL-76 (Falcon 9)
1 May 2017
Space Launch Complex 39A
Kennedy Space Center
Page One of Two
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched its first national security payload sending a classified satellite (NROL-76) into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office. Liftoff was on 1 May 2017 at 7:15 a.m. from Space Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The first stage booster was recovered through a successful landing at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station a little over eight minutes after launch.
Hazy conditions hampered the view of the launch.
First stage main engine cut off.
First stage booster separation.
Second stage ignition.
The second stage proceeds on carrying the NROL-76 satellite into orbit while the first stage maneuvers for landing.
The first stage begins the boostback burn to head for Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The boostback burn continues while the second stage continues on into orbit.
The first stage is at upper left while the second stage is at lower right. Note the fairing is being jettisoned and starting to fall away. Enlarged in the inset a few moments later shows the two halves now well clear from around the satellite atop the second stage where they protected the satellite from aerodynamic forces in its flight through the atmosphere.
The first stage lines up for its fall through the atmosphere and eventual landing.
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