SpaceX launches NRO payloads, a Predawn Easter flight at the West Coast
NROL-85 is the first NRO mission to fly and land on a used rocket.
SpaceX launched a military satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and landed the returning rocket back to the Landing site today (April 17), lit the Easter Sunday Morning.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the NROL-85 spacecraft lifted off from the Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The instant launch window is at 06:13 PT, or 13:13 UTC (09:13 EDT).
The military satellite is to be placed in an orbit of 1,220.8 km x 1,024.2 km, with the orbital inclination of 63.535°
The Falcon9 staging occurs at T + 2.5 minutes later. The first stage headed back to Earth, making a vertical touchdown at Vandenberg's Landing Zone 4 roughly eight minutes after launch. SpaceX ended its live webcast of the launch just after the Falcon 9 landing at the NRO's request due to the mission's classified nature.
"It also marks our 114th overall successful recovery of a first-stage booster," John Insprucker, SpaceX's principal integration engineer, said after the landing.