Classified US satellite launched from California after delay

13 January, 2018, 14:16 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • The Delta IV rocket sits at Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Thursday mroning awaiting liftoff for a National Reconnaissance Office mission

The mission - dubbed NROL-47 - is classified, so we don't know much about the payload and what it'll be used for once in orbit. This latest mission patch is part of a long tradition of just plainly weird patches that the NRO issues for each classified launch.

According to NASA Spaceflight, NROL-47 is most likely some type of radar imaging satellite. United Launch Alliance (ULA) kicked off 2018 by launching the very first U.S. spy satellite of the year into space on 12 January, Friday. "My honest thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners at the NRO and U.S. Air Force who made this, our 27 NRO launch, possible". Orbital ATK produced the solid rocket motors at its facilities in Magna and Clearfield, Utah, where it has manufactured GEM-60s for the Delta IV launch vehicle since the initial flight in 2002.

The Delta 4's first stage was expected to end its burn around four minutes after liftoff, then the rocket's second stage RL10 engine was programmed to complete the job of placing the clandestine payload in orbit. Allen Varghese, the Air Force's launch director for the NROL-47 mission and director of operations at the 4th Space Launch Squadron. The company has already carried out 26 launches for NRO.

There seemed to be concern that the launch would be delayed again Friday after ULA reported a ground system helium problem.

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Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the launch commander. The government hasn't confirmed whether the top-secret satellite did indeed fall out of orbit and reenter Earth's atmosphere.

Last month, from Vandenberg captured the attention of Southern Californians throughout the region with a spectacular show in the night sky.

The Delta IV rocket was built in Decatur, Alabama.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads.

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