A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Wednesday and launch a national security payload designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office into orbit, base officials said Monday morning.
The target launch window is 12:18 p.m., and Space Launch Delta 30 Commander Col. Rob Long is the designated launch decision authority for the mission.
The first stage of the NROL-87 mission will return to land at Vandenberg and produce several sonic booms as the vehicle breaks the sound barrier on re-entry, officials said. A sonic boom is defined as the sound associated with shock waves from an aircraft or launch vehicle moving faster than the speed of sound and which may generate a sound similar to an explosion or thunderclap.
The degree of noise experienced during the NROL mission will depend on weather conditions and other factors, officials noted.
Base officials noted that the public viewing area on Azalea Lane, off Highway 1 and half a mile south of the Vandenberg Space Force Base main gate, will not be open to the public. public in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.
The NROL-87 mission will mark the National Reconnaissance Office’s first time aboard a Falcon 9 West Range rocket and the first Falcon 9 first stage landing at Vandenberg Space Force Base SLC-4 since launch and the Sentinel-6 landing on Nov. 21, 2020, officials said.