ULA launches spy satellite from California

Watch a Delta IV rocket launch a secret satellite to space

On Thursday the secretive rocket was delayed for more than an hour - and then yet another hour. 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 launch of a rocket carrying a national security satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base that was delayed multiple times this week is expected Friday shortly after 2 p.m.

Coverage of the launch Friday is scheduled to begin at 3:40 p.m. EST, 20 minutes before the launch window opens at 4 p.m. EST. But spy satellites launched into polar orbits are typically used for photo or radar reconnaissance, able to observe targets anywhere in the world as the planet rotates below. It is also the 27 launch for the NRO.

The rocket was originally scheduled to lift-off on Wednesday, but high winds forced ULA to delay the mission.

Its payload is a satellite dubbed NROL-47 for the National Reconnaissance Office.




The same policy was in place last Sunday when SpaceX launched a classified satellite known as Zuma atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. "Latest weather briefing shows an 80% chance of favorable weather".

ULA said: "The ULA #DeltaIV #NROL47" launch for the @NatReconOfc was scrubbed today due to an issue with a ground system valve. Officials are hopeful the weather will cooperate this time. The government hasn't confirmed whether the top-secret satellite did indeed fall out of orbit and reenter Earth's atmosphere.

Sunday's launch was SpaceX's third classified mission. "Aerojet Rocketdyne employees across the country work hard to ensure 100 percent mission success, and our role in yet another launch for the National Reconnaissance Office demonstrates the trust and confidence in our propulsion".

You can get a close-up view of Vandenberg launches at a nearby public viewing area.

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