Launch Spotlight: SpaceX launching first west coast mission of 2022, paired with RTLS landing

SpaceX is preparing to launch a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office from its west coast launch site at Vandenberg Space Force Base. This will also feature an RTLS landing right next to the launch pad at its landing pad.

Launch Date: Wednesday, February 2, 3:27 p.m. EST

Rocket: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (1071-1)

Payload: NROL-87

Launch Pad: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California

Destination: Sun-Synchronous Orbit 

Landing Site: Landing Zone 4, Vandenberg Space Force Base

What is the Falcon 9?

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is the workhorse of commercial launches into Earth orbit. Nine Merlin engines power the partially reusable rocket on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The Falcon 9 has launched a total of 138 times with a 98% success rate, making it a highly trusted vehicle among the commercial, scientific, and defense sectors.

The Booster

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster B1071 is a brand new first stage. We don’t get to see many of these, but it’s always cool to see how clean these rockets start then how quickly that changes.

Where to watch?

You can find coverage of Wednesday’s launch on SpaceX’s YouTube channel. The live stream will usually go live about 15 minutes before liftoff and will offer the best views of the launch. Based on the classified nature of the payload, this stream will likely end short of payload deployment.

Featured Image: SpaceX

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