SpaceX is taking its second shot at NROL-76, a Falcon 9 mission launching from LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Station. The launch was originally scheduled for Sunday, April 30, but that attempt was scrubbed due to a sensor issue.
The window for the re-try today opens at 7 AM EDT (4 AM PDT) and continues for two hours after that. As of earlier this morning, SpaceX was advising a 7:15 AM liftoff time, but was monitoring winds in the upper level of the launch range as a possible issue.
NROL-76 is SpaceX’s first launch for the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates overhead surveillance efforts for the U.S. The nature and target of the orbit is unknown, and it carries a classified payload, but speculation is that it might be a new or experimental type of satellite craft.
For SpaceX observers, it’s more interesting that the company will be attempting to recover the Falcon 9 via a landing at the company’s LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The ground-based landing zone has been used by SpaceX in the past, in addition to its floating barges. Being able to recover rockets consistently at LZ-1 will help considerably with the company’s goal of cutting down Falcon 9 reflight time to within 24 hours of an initial launch.
UPDATE: Mission successful!