Last SpaceX launch of the year will boost a spy satellite Friday

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Last SpaceX launch of the year will boost a spy satellite Friday

SpaceX in 2020 sent astronauts to orbit for the first time and saw the explosive debut of its latest Starship prototype. But it still has one more launch planned to wrap up 2020.

A Falcon 9 rocket is set to send a new spy satellite to space for the US National Reconnaissance Office Friday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch was initially set to take place Thursday morning, but was pushed back a day after some irregular pressure readings triggered an auto-abort.

The classified national security mission is designated NROL-108 and will be the sixth launch of 2020 for the NRO.

Like most other NRO launches, this one has a somewhat cryptic poster and slogan, in the form of a cartoon gorilla beating its chest and the phrase “peace through strength.”

“Gorillas are peaceful animals but can be fierce when necessary,” the NRO explained on Twitter. “Like the gorilla, our #NROL108 mission is constantly vigilant and ready to defend its own.”

A recent NRO mission, launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Nov. 13, featured a mysterious Lord of the Rings theme, including some elvish script.

“I think we just have some Lord of the Rings fans,” an NRO spokesperson later told me via email.

Weather forecasts look favorable for Friday’s mission to blast off during its three-hour launch window between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. PT (9 a.m. to noon ET). The first-stage booster of the Falcon 9 will attempt to make a landing ashore at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

SpaceX will livestream the launch and you can watch it above.

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