Skip to main content

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.


— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 2, 2022

Falcon 9’s first stage has landed

— 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.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Watch the highlights of SpaceX’s triple-booster Falcon Heavy launch
watch the highlights of spacexs falcon heavy launch july 2023

SpaceX successfully launched a triple-booster Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:04 p.m. ET on Friday, July 28.

The mission deployed the 9-metric-ton Jupiter 3 communications satellite for Maryland-based Hughes Network Systems. It’s the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever built and when fully deployed approaches the wingspan of a commercial airliner.

Read more
How to watch SpaceX launch largest ever commercial comms satellite on Friday
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket heads to space on Tuesday, November 1, 2022.

Hughes JUPITER 3 Mission

UPDATE: SpaceX called off Wednesday night's Falcon Heavy launch just a few minutes before it was set to lift off. The company had hoped to try again on Thursday night but is now targeting Friday night so that it can complete vehicle checkouts. Full details below.

Read more
SpaceX shares stunning night shot of Super Heavy on launchpad
A Super Heavy booster on the launchpad at SpaceX's site in Texas.

SpaceX has shared a stunning shot (above) of its next-generation Super Heavy booster on the launchpad.

The image shows the most powerful rocket in the world under a starlit sky at SpaceX’s Starbase site in Boca Chica, Texas. At the bottom of the booster, we can see some of the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines that will blast the rocket to orbit.

Read more