ULA Delta IV launches satellite from California
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket delivered a U.S. intelligence-gathering satellite to orbit after blasting off from California's Central Coast early Wednesday, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
Aided by a pair of solid rocket motors, the Delta IV lifted off at 6:40 a.m. EST with the classified National Reconnaissance Office mission labeled NROL-45.
Amateur satellite trackers speculate that the mission is deploying a fourth radar imaging satellite in a series called Topaz, a code name revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The mission's poster featured a silhouette of a soldier kneeling at a memorial to a fallen comrade and the line, "For those who have given all, we remember."
At the NRO's request to preserve the mission's secrecy, ULA ended its launch Webcast less than five minutes into the flight, after the solid motors and payload fairing had separated from the rocket.
Less than three hours later, ULA later confirmed the launch was a success.
"ULA is proud to be entrusted with safely and reliably delivering our nation’s most critical space assets to orbit," said Laura Maginnis, vice president of custom services.
The mission was ULA's second in five days, following the Feb. 5 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station of an Atlas V rocket carrying a Global Positioning System satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
It was the 31st launch overall of a Delta IV rocket, which ULA plans to phase out of use over the next few years.
Next up for the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture is an Atlas V launch from the Cape of International Space Station cargo aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus craft, targeted for March 22.
Copyright 2016 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.