SpaceX this year sent astronauts to orbit for its first time and saw the unstable presentation of its most recent Starship prototype. In any case, it actually has one more launch intended to wrap up 2020.
A Falcon 9 rocket is set to send a new spy satellite to space for the US National Reconnaissance Office on Saturday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch was at first set to happen Thursday morning, yet some irregular pressure readings triggered an auto-abort, pushing the launch initially back to Friday and now to Saturday.
This classified national security mission is assigned NROL-108 and will be the 6th launch in 2020 from the National Reconnaissance Office. Like most other NRO launches, this one has a fairly cryptic poster and slogan, as a cartoon gorilla beating its chest and the phrase “peace through strength.”
“Gorillas are peaceful animals but can be fierce when necessary,” the NRO cryptically tweeted. “Like the gorilla, our #NROL108 mission is constantly vigilant and ready to defend its own.”
A new NRO mission, launched on board a United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket on Nov. 13, highlighted a baffling Lord of the Rings subject, including some elvish content.
“I think we just have some Lord of the Rings fans,” an NRO spokesperson later told me via email.
Weather forecasts look positive for Saturday’s mission to blast off during its three-hour launch window between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. PT (9 a.m. to early afternoon ET). The primary stage booster of the Falcon 9 will endeavor to make an arrival aground at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.