Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Classified US satellite launched from California after delay

Vandenberg Launch set for January 10 at 1PM Vandenberg Launch set for January 10 at 1PM
Theresa Hayes | 13 January, 2018, 08:25

The Delta IV carrying NROL-47 rises into the California sky on January 12, 2018.

A rocket carrying a spy satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base Friday afternoon after being delayed a day due to technical issues.

This is ULA's first launch in 2018 and the 124 successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

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.

The exact time of the launch, to become ULA's first this year, is yet unknown.

"As the nation's most trustworthy launch provider, today's launch exemplifies ULA's ongoing commitment to 100 percent mission success", said Will Crawford, ULA's NRO program manager.

The office is in charge of designing, building, launching and maintaining USA intelligence satellites. As usual with classified launchings, no details were provided about the satellite payload or its intended orbit. NROL-47 will join the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) satellite constellation, which flies under the code name Topaz. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage.

The launch was delayed twice earlier this week. The Delta IV rocket is supposed to launch the NROL-47 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, according to ULA. It marked the 27th NRO launch by United Launch Alliance, which is a Colorado-based aerospace partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

The Delta IV rocket was built in Decatur, Alabama. The Delta IV M+(5,2) and Delta IV M+(5,4) have two and four SRMs, respectively, and 5-m-diameter PLF. It was also the 36 flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.

"It's a national security payload and this mission will ensure the warfighters across the globe have the appropriate intel that they need to support operations", said Maj. According to the organization's website, "together with other Defense Department satellites, the NRO systems play a crucial role in providing global communications, precision navigation, early warning of missile launches and potential military aggression, signals intelligence, and near real-time imagery to US forces to support the war on terrorism and other continuing operations".

"This was an incredibly important launch for the 30th Space Wing and our mission partners", Wood said. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.

Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.