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SpaceX launches second U.S. reconnaissance satellite on Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX launches second U.S. reconnaissance satellite on Falcon 9 rocket
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as seen here at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan 16, 2016, successfully launched U.S. spy satellites into space for the second time. File NASA Photo by Bill Ingalls/UPI | License Photo

April 17 (UPI) -- SpaceX on Sunday successfully launched a U.S. spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office on its Falcon 9 rocket.

The company announced liftoff in the launch from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 9:14 a.m.

The Falcon 9 carried the NROL-85 satellite that is used to collect and deliver "space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," the office said.

The NRO says little about its spacecraft, except that it supports the agency's security mission to provide intelligence data to the nation's senior policy makers, the intelligence community and the Department of Defense.

Agencies that compile NRO data include the National Security Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Civil agencies, such as FEMA, also use NRO intelligence for research and development and for emergency and disaster relief efforts in the United States and around the world.

The rocket used in Sunday's launch was the same that carried a previous NRO payload in February.

Falcon 9's first stage landed shortly after liftoff at 9:22 a.m., allowing the rocket to be reused.

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