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Watching a SpaceX booster landing never grows old, so here’s Wednesday’s

Sandwiched between Monday’s satellite launch for the Italian Space Agency and Thursday’s launch of Starlink internet satellites, SpaceX on Wednesday undertook a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Performing so many launches in such a short space of time used to be unheard of, but a busy schedule has always been SpaceX’s target as it utilizes its reusable rocket system for a range of companies and organizations seeking access to space.

Wednesday’s mission launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 12:18 p.m. PT, carrying a U.S. government spy satellite — listed as payload NROL-87 — into orbit for the NRO.

As usual, SpaceX livestreamed the mission, though due to the classified nature of the payload, the private spaceflight company refrained from sharing footage of the satellite’s deployment into orbit.

We were, however, treated to some awesome views of the Falcon 9 rocket’s launch and landing, which we’ve embedded below.

Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/pvsB7IqKSj

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 2, 2022

Falcon 9’s first stage has landed pic.twitter.com/E22NvEiKe0

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 2, 2022

Below is a longer clip of the landing, which shows the booster descending from an altitude of just over 400,000 feet (about 120,000 meters).

NROL-87 Mission

Commenting after the launch, Colonel Chad Davis, director of NRO’s Office of Space Launch, said: “This launch demonstrates our ability to build the best-in-class systems to protect the United States and our allies from threats in and from space.”

Davis added: “Our partners at SpaceX and U.S. Space Force were vital to the success of this mission today, and their outstanding capabilities make these highly technical missions look routine.”

This was SpaceX’s fourth orbital mission in what’s set to be a record-breaking year for the company in terms of launches. At least 40 missions are already planned for the next 12 months, ensuring it’ll breeze past 2021’s total of 31 launches.

SpaceX will now turn its attention to Thursday’s launch of another batch of Starlink internet satellites from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as it continues to build out its constellation and increase its broadband coverage from space.

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