Watch ULA Kick Off 2018 With a Spy Satellite Launch

14 January, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Marie Harrington
  • United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+ with NROL-47 at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 6

A rocket carrying a classified USA satellite blasted off from California Friday. The government hasn't confirmed whether the top-secret satellite did indeed fall out of orbit and reenter Earth's atmosphere.

It was initially scheduled to launch on January 10 and later January 11, but was delayed twice due to weather conditions and technical issues. Assuming confirmation of a problem-free launch Friday, ULA's record will stand at 124 successful flights in a row, including 27 for the NRO. As usual, no one knows what the NROL-47 satellite is all about and what its mission is.

"This was an incredibly important launch for the 30th Space Wing and our mission partners", said Wood. The secretive nature of this launch is attributed to the fact that it is a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of the national defense. "My honest thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners at the NRO and U.S. Air Force who made this, our 27th NRO launch, possible". The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

There's an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for the Friday afternoon launch, United Launch Alliance said on Twitter.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider.

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The mission was due to take place at Space Launch Complex-6 - around 140 miles from downtown Los Angeles in California.

Orbital ATK provided two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60) for the Delta IV rocket.

Thursday's delays were due to an issue with a ground system valve, according to ULA, which had also earlier reported issues with swing arms, which connect parts of the rocket to the launchpad and typically move away from the vehicle between ignition and liftoff.

Sunday's launch was SpaceX's third classified mission.

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