Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ULA launches Atlas V and spy satellite from California

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted off from California early this morning with a national spy satellite.

The rocket lifted off at 12:03 a.m. EDT (9:03 p.m. Monday local time) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, becoming the third Atlas V to do so.

Because the National Reconnaissance Office mission was classified, details were not released about the spacecraft's destination or separation from the rocket.

"This is a proud moment for United Launch Alliance knowing this launch is providing our brave men and women fighting for our nation the space assets they need to defend America," Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for mission operations, said in a statement.

About 30 local ULA employees supported the West Coast launch.

ULA now turns its attention to the planned Oct. 19 launch of another NRO mission atop a Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

IMAGE: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off from its Space Launch Complex-3 launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:03 p.m. PDT Sept. 20 (12:03 a.m. Sept. 21 Eastern time). The Atlas V launched with a NRO payload in support of national defense. Credit: ULA.

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