The mission, code named "Zuma", is a Falcon-9 rocket launch, but it is unclear what the rocket is carrying. After the launch, the rocket's first stage will attempt to make a return to a landing site along the Florida coast for what would be the company's 21 rocket landing.
Even as a SpaceX prepares for a weekend government launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the company's powerful Falcon Heavy Rocket is vertical on a NASA launchpad for a demonstration flight later this month.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the secret Zuma spacecraft for the US government launches Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on January 7, 2018 in this still from a SpaceX video.
The Falcon 9's second stage presumably will still be firing when the first stage attempts to land Sunday, but details about the Zuma satellite's intended orbit will remain a secret. This is SpaceX's third classified mission, and arguably its most secretive flight for the U.S. military.
"Northrop Grumman is proud to be a part of the Zuma launch".
The company executed its signature move: guiding the first-stage rocket booster back to Earth for a safe landing.
The Zuma launch kicked off what SpaceX hopes will be an exciting year.
As usual, SpaceX will livestream the launch on its website. The monstrous rocket will have three times the thrust of the Falcon 9. The satellite popped up on SpaceX's launch schedule last October, two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration received an application for launch. So, it has only attempted recovering a single core. In roughly that same period, SpaceX plans to launch an SES military communications satellite in partnership with Luxembourg and a Spanish Earth-observation station, both from pad 40.