SpaceX satellite will now collect space-based intelligence to assist a number of US agencies.
SpaceX liftoff of another spy satellite for the United States National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was live-streamed by SpaceX. On Sunday at 9:13 a.m. EDT, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the NROL-85 spacecraft (the spy satellite) launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California (13:13 GMT).
SpaceX also retrieved the first stage of the Falcon 9’s two stages to Vandenberg for a precise touchdown just over eight minutes after launch. According to a SpaceX mission description, this was the second launch and landing for this specific first stage, which was also involved in the NRO’s first launch of the year, the NROL-87 satellite mission, which launched successfully in February 2022.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) designs and operates sensitive space reconnaissance satellite systems for the United States. Once in orbit, the satellites collect space-based information and raw data to serve a number of American agencies.
The NRO is launching for the second time in 2022. This year, the NRO has a total of four events planned. In July, an Atlas V will launch from Cape Canaveral with the NROL-107 SILENTBARKER mission, and in August, a Delta IV Heavy will launch from Vandenberg with NROL-91. After the landing, John Insprucker, SpaceX’s chief integration engineer, noted, “It also represents our 114th overall successful recovery of a first-stage booster.”