Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched a reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday.
The launch on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office was previously scheduled for 6:41 a.m. Friday, but was twice delayed over the weekend, once to provide additional time for pre-launch checkouts and data reviews and again on Saturday due to excessive winds in the forecast.
“Today the Western Range teamed with the National Reconnaissance Office to deliver a critical national security payload, which will provide our warfighters and decision-makers with vital intelligence data,” Colonel Rob Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander, said on Sunday. “This is the 20th NRO launch from the Western Range since 1996 and I’m proud of both the team today and the long-standing and strong partnership with the NRO. Go NROL-85!”
The launch went off at 6:13 a.m.
NROL-85 is the first NRO mission to reuse a SpaceX rocket booster. NROL-87, launched two months earlier, was the first NRO launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket intended to be reused for a future mission.
Following the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9, the mission’s first stage returned to land on Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Officials said Space Launch Delta 30’s primary responsibilities include maintaining and operating the Western range, safeguarding the public, providing mission assurance and ensuring minimal environmental impact while providing services, facilities and range safety control for the execution of defense, civil and commercial launches.