US intelligence satellite launched from California
VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was launched into space from California on Sunday.
The NROL-85 satellite lifted off at 6:13 a.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base aboard a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
It was the first mission by the NRO to reuse a SpaceX rocket booster, Vandenberg said in a statement.
The Falcon’s first stage flew back and landed at the seaside base northwest of Los Angeles.
The NRO only described the NROL-85 satellite as a “critical national security payload.”
Its launch was one of three awarded by the Air Force to SpaceX in 2019 for a combined fixed price of $297 million.
The NRO is the government agency in charge of developing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. satellites that provide intelligence data to senior policymakers, the intelligence community and the Defense Department.