SpaceX will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). "One week from today, NROL-87 launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Feb. 2 between 8:37 a.m. and 1:38 p.m. PST aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket," NRO announced on January 26. The NROL-87 mission will be launched by a brand new Falcon 9 rocket in SpaceX’s fleet, the first-stage booster is identified as B1071. SpaceX performed a static-fire test of the rocket this week to ensure it is ready for liftoff. During the static-firing the booster was filled with sub-chilled propellant –kerosene and liquid oxygen, then the nine Merlin 1D engines were briefly ignited while it remained grounded with hold-down clamps to keep it on the launch pad. The Merlin engines can produce over 1.7 million pounds of thrust at full throttle! SpaceX announced the test was completed, now, B1071 is on its way to California. This upcoming mission will be the first one launched from West Coast in 2022.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting February 2 for launch of the NROL-87 mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 26, 2022
One week from today, #NROL87 launches from #Vandenberg Space Force Base on Feb. 2 between 8:37 a.m. and 1:38 p.m. PST aboard a @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Stay tuned right HERE for all the action and launch coverage! ⏱️🚀🛰️ #getready #space #launch @SLDelta30 pic.twitter.com/MKA5ZdyLib— NRO (@NatReconOfc) January 26, 2022
No information has been released about the mysterious NROL-87 payload. The U.S. military and intelligence agencies routinely launch top secret satellites and spacecraft without telling the public what its specific purpose is. NRO does admit to operating spy satellites designed to provide intelligence data to the United States Department of Defense (DoD), senior policy makers, as well as other members of the intelligence community. NRO manages a constellation of dozens of national security satellites that are already orbiting our planet. "The NRO has been the nation's eyes and ears in space for almost six decades–developing, launching and operating sophisticated overhead reconnaissance systems to meet the national security needs of the nation," the agency stated.
NRO revealed the NROL-87 mission patch on January 21, pictured below. "Pretty symbolic, don’t you think? The NROL87 launch patch features a wild mountain goat standing proud atop a mountain peak remaining watchfully alert. NRO maintains constant vigilance from above in protecting our nation and its citizens," they captioned the image via Twitter. To learn more about the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office you can watch the 4-minute video linked below.
Pretty symbolic, don’t you think? The #NROL87 launch patch features a wild mountain goat standing proud atop a mountain peak remaining watchfully alert. NRO maintains constant vigilance from above in protecting our nation and its citizens.#space #spacebound #vigilancefromabove pic.twitter.com/E7U8MBSbUL— NRO (@NatReconOfc) January 21, 2022
VIDEO: U.S. National Reconnaissance Office
Featured Image Source: U.S. National Reconnaissance Office
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.