SpaceX launches classified USSF-124 satellites on secret Valentine's Day mission for US Space Force (video)


SpaceX launched a mysterious national security mission today (Feb. 14) in a flawless late afternoon launch.

A Falcon 9 rocket launched the classified USSF-124 mission for the U.S. Space Force today from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station right on time at 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT).

The Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth for a vertical touchdown at sunny Cape Canaveral about eight minutes after liftoff. SpaceX’s launch webcast shortly thereafter at the request of the Space Force. The landing marked SpaceX’s 272nd landing of an orbital-class rocket.

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a white rocket flies through the air in a perfectly blue sky

a white rocket flies through the air in a perfectly blue sky

Today’s mission was the seventh launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.

We don’t know much about USSF-124. The Space Force remained mum about it until this morning, when it emailed out a statement saying that the mission is ready to fly.

a white rocket flies through the air in a perfectly blue sky

a white rocket flies through the air in a perfectly blue sky

That statement revealed that USSF-124 will send six satellites to orbit — two for the Missile Defense Agency and four for the Space Development Agency — but did not describe the spacecraft or their envisioned orbital duties.

“With each national security launch, we continue to strengthen America’s capabilities and its deterrence in the face of growing threats while adding stability to a very dynamic world,” Col. Jim Horne, senior materiel leader for Space System Command’s Launch Execution Delta, said in the emailed statement. “It’s what we do in the Space Force, and we take that charge seriously.”

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USSF-124 could be part of a very busy stretch in spaceflight. At 7:30 p.m. EST tonight (0030 GMT on Feb. 15), for example, SpaceX plans to launch 22 of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Then, at 10:25 p.m. EST tonight (0325 GMT on Feb. 15), Russia will send the robotic Progress 87 freighter toward the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz rocket.

And SpaceX plans to launch IM-1, a private moon-landing mission, on Feb. 15 at 1:05 a.m. EST (0605 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which is next door to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14 with information about USSF-124 from a statement emailed out by the Space Force.



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