CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A United Launch Alliance rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Friday evening into a clear colorful sky carrying a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.
The Atlas V rocket’s mission was to launch a satellite known as as NROL-101 for the National Reconnaissance Office. Liftoff happened after a few brief delays at 5:32 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex-41.
The liftoff was scheduled for about 20 minutes earlier but ULA reported a timing issue with some engine valves that was quickly resolved.
Weather did not present any problems for Atlas V and launch teams.
About five hours before blast off, Launch Weather Officer Jessica Williams from the U.S. Space Force said the forecast for launch time had a 90% percent chance of favorable conditions. Lightning and cumulus clouds were “only a remote concern for this evening’s launch opportunity,” according to ULA.
The favorable forecast was a blessing after three other scheduled attempts were called off due to weather. The first launch attempt was scrubbed on Nov. 4 for a technical issue. Three other rescheduled attempts on Nov. 8, 11 and 12 were delayed due to Tropical Storm, formerly hurricane, Eta.
Meanwhile, downrange SpaceX is preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center sending four astronauts to the International Space Station. That launch is scheduled for 7:27 p.m. Sunday, a delay from Saturday’s first window. Weather is also looking favorable at 60% as of Friday morning.