US Spy Satellite Heads for Orbit to Replenish Fleet

US Spy Satellite Heads for Orbit to Replenish Fleet

The Delta IV rocket will deliver a national security satellite into space as part of mission NROL-47 from the National Reconnaissance Office.

While details about the payload are classified, groups of amateur satellite trackers can use clues to narrow down the nature of the satellite, including its likely orbit and technology.

ULA's webcast launch commentator did not mention the satellite beyond its name and as usual for classified missions, the company ended its coverage after payload fairing jettison. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage.

"The ULA #DeltaIV #NROL47" launch for the @NatReconOfc was scrubbed today due to an issue with a ground system valve.

The Delta IV family of launch vehicles combines design simplicity, manufacturing efficiency, and streamlined mission and vehicle integration to meet customer requirements to launch high-priority U.S. Air Force (USAF), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), NASA, and commercial payloads to orbit.

The third time was the charm for United Launch Alliance and its twice-delayed NROL-47 mission. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala. Orbital ATK's contributions to the Delta IV include cutting-edge technologies from across the company, including two Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60), large composite structures and the propellant tank and nozzle for the main engine.

The blastoff and initial phases of the rocket's flight were a success. It performs launch services for the USA government at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"We are proud to provide this national defence capability and every Team V member involved has tirelessly worked to ensure the launch is safe and successful".

Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott.

While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration.