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SpaceX rocket successfully launches second US spy satellite into orbit

A classified satellite from the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was successfully launched into space with a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday morning, officials confirmed.

The NROL-85 satellite blasted off at 6:13 a.m. local time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Sunday’s launch was the first time the NRO has reused a rocket booster previously launched to space, the NRO said in a statement.

The NRO only described the NROL-85 satellite, the second it’s launched with Spacex this year, as a “critical national security payload.”

According to Spacex, Elon Musk’s aerospace company, it has launched 147 total Falcon-9 rockets, 107 of which have landed. A total of 87 of the rockets have been re-flown, including the first rocket ever used for a second time in 2017.

The Falcon’s first stage flew back and landed at the seaside base northwest of Los Angeles.

The launch was one of three the Air Force contracted to SpaceX in 2019 for a combined fixed price of $297 million.

NRO is the government agency tasked with building and launching U.S. satellites that provide intelligence data to lawmakers, the intelligence agencies and the Defense Department.

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