SpaceX ended its livestream of the mission minutes after liftoff and then recovery of the rocket's core stage booster without showing the South Korean payload's deployment.

In May, South Korea used its own domestically produced Nuri launch vehicle to place a mission-capable satellite into orbit for the first time, but it has contracted with the American company SpaceX to launch a total of five spy satellites by 2025 in an effort to accelerate its goal of having 24-hour watch over the Korean peninsula.

After two earlier attempts ended in rocket crashes this year, North Korea used its own Chollima-1 launch vehicle to place the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite in orbit.

Pyongyang has yet to release any imagery from that satellite, and analysts say its full capabilities are unknown.

(Reporting by Michael Martina, Joey Roulette and Josh Smith; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)