Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

ULA's Delta IV rocket successfully launches classified NROL-47 satellite into space

ULA's Delta IV rocket successfully launches classified NROL-47 satellite into space

The scheduled ULA launch comes less than a week after SpaceX launched a mysterious Zuma payload for the United States government and allegedly failed to deliver it to orbit.

The top secret NRO missions are generally classified - so it is unclear what specifically the satellite will be doing on its orbit around earth. "Launch is planned for Thursday, Jan. 11, from Vandenberg Air Force Base", ULA tweeted.

High winds forced United Launch Alliance to scrub its launch plans for Wednesday afternoon. It is also the 27 launch for the NRO. NROL-47 will join the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) satellite constellation, which flies under the code name Topaz. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

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The office is in charge of designing, building, launching and maintaining USA intelligence satellites.

Additionally, Orbital ATK manufactured the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system at the company's Commerce, California, facility, and designed and manufactured the nozzle for the Delta IV's RS-68A engine at its Promontory, Utah, facility. The forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

As the Delta 4 rocket was nearing orbit, the United Launch Alliance ended its coverage and the rest of the flight was carried out under the radar.

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The launch will happen at Space Launch Complex-6, which sits about 140 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.

"We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch", Col. Greg Wood, launch commander and vice commander of the Air Force's 30th Space Wing, said in a statement earlier this week.

Sunday's launch was SpaceX's third classified mission. "We are proud to provide this national defense capability, and every Team V member involved has tirelessly worked to ensure the launch is safe and successful".

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