A US intelligence agency said Wednesday that its newest spy satellite successfully launched into orbit atop a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The rocket took off at 12:27 pm local time (2027 GMT) from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which is in charge of the US Space Force, said in a statement.
After releasing the satellite, dubbed NROL-87, into orbit, the Falcon 9 rocket then landed back at the base, the agency said.
“NROL-87 is designed, built, and operated by the NRO to support its overhead reconnaissance mission,” the statement said.
LAUNCH UPDATE: Tomorrow, #NROL87 will carry a national security payload designed, built and operated by the NRO, which will go to space onboard a @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from @SLDelta30 at 12:18 p.m. PST. Stay tuned for live updates on launch day. #getready pic.twitter.com/d98RGlU4Ux
— NRO (@NatReconOfc) February 2, 2022
The NRO gave few other details about the satellite but said it will “provide a wide-range of timely intelligence information.”
The NRO, a division of the US Defense Department, operates a large network of surveillance satellites, and is headquartered near Washington, in northern Virginia.
NROL-87, the first satellite launched by the NRO in 2022, is the third time the agency has used a Falcon 9 rocket.
The NRO has launched 16 other satellites over the past two years.