Secret Spy Satellite Launches Atop Atlas V Rocket

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 24, 2017

The United States has another eye in the sky.

With the extra day, the team will now change out the battery and work to get the launch vehicle and its clandestine payload off of the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 3 East (SLC-3E) in California.

NROL-42 is the latest addition to the fleet of spacecraft built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). NRO satellite missions are classified, so it's unclear what orbit NROL-42 will occupy, or what exactly the craft will be doing as it zooms around Earth.

The National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-42 spy satellite lifts off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket early on September 24, 2017.

Col. Gregory Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, will be the launch decision authority.

The launch on Saturday night was conducted by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Relatively speaking, this has been a light year in terms of launches from Colorado-based ULA, with NROL-42 marking only the sixth flight of 2017.

The Atlas V has now flown 73 times since its 2002 debut and has not suffered a single mission failure. The rocket, which had been delayed from its originally scheduled launch on Thursday, rumbled skyward until only its flame-filled exhaust remained visible throughout the region.

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