SpaceX launch LIVE stream: Watch Falcon 9 rocket launch today

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Falcon 9 is expected to send a classified cargo into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on what is widely believed to be a naval fact-finding mission. SpaceX announced on Thursday that the launch – due to happen just off California’s Central Coast – would be delayed no later than Saturday morning.

The company said the hold-up would allow time to “complete pre-launch checkouts and data reviews”.

No details about the mission – codenamed NROL-85 – have been made public by the NRO as is typically the case for all of its launches.

All of the US Government’s fleet of intelligence gathering spy satellites are owned by the NRO.

These satellites work by supplying optical and radar surveillance imagery, eavesdropping capabilities, and data relay support.

What time is the Falcon 9 rocket launch?

Falcon 9 is expected to take off on the morning of Saturday, April 16 at 6.27am local time (1.27pm GMT).

The launch will take place from Vandenberg Space Force Base, a military facility on the Pacific coastline northwest of Los Angeles.

SpaceX has a countdown order listed on its website for avid fans to follow along with.

How can I watch from the UK?

A live webcast of the mission will be broadcast by the space agency across its website.

At present, it’s due to begin 15 minutes prior to liftoff.

Alternatively, you can follow along with regular updates from the company’s various social media channels.

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Independent analysts largely agree that the NROL-85 mission will add two new spacecraft to the US Government’s naval reconnaissance satellite fleet.

The circumstances of the mission, including its altitude, inclination and launch time, all point to the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the next pair of Intruder naval reconnaissance satellites.

Intruder spacecraft are sometimes called Naval Ocean Surveillance System, or NOSS, satellites.

They collect data which is then used by the US Navy and Government intelligence agencies.

In 2019, the US military – which oversees launch procurement for NRO missions – awarded SpaceX a contract for the NROL-85 launch.

Military procurement documents revealed that the NROL-85 mission would aim to place its payloads into an orbit between 636 miles and 758 miles in altitude, with an inclination of 63.5 degrees to the equator.

Those orbital parameters match with the known altitude and inclination of previous Intruder satellites.

In fact, airspace and maritime warning notices associated with the Falcon 9 launch confirm the rocket will follow a trajectory southeast from Vandenberg, lining up with the expected 63.5-degree inclination target orbit.

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