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WATCH LIVE: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is expected to launch its Falcon 9 rocket Friday, Dec. 17, carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Watch the launch in the player above.

In May, SpaceX became the first private company to put people into orbit, an achievement previously claimed by just three global superpowers. The two test pilots were the first NASA astronauts to fly a new brand of spaceship in almost 40 years and the first to blast off from Florida since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

In November, four more astronauts rode a SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. Three weeks later, SpaceX launched its biggest cargo shipment yet to the space station for NASA.

“This is an impressive achievement which Americans should be proud of,” astronaut-turned-senator Mark Kelly said of the Dragon capsule double-header.

At the same time, SpaceX is expanding its Dragon-riding clientele. Late next year, SpaceX expects to launch the first privately financed Dragon flight in a deal arranged by Houston-based Axiom Space.