Thursday, January 20, 2011

Delta IV Heavy, spy satellite blast off from California

A national security satellite was headed to orbit this afternoon after the first-ever launch of a Delta IV Heavy from California.

The triple-barreled United Launch Alliance rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:10 p.m. EST carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload.

Because of the mission's secrecy, a ULA Webcast of the launch cut off about six minutes into flight following the separation of three first-stage boosters, ignition of the upper stage engine and jettison of a fairing shielding the rectangular, school bus-sized satellite.

It was the fourth operational flight of the heavy Delta IV configuration, the fifth overall since 2004, and the first from the West Coast.

IMAGE: A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launches with a National Reconnaissance Office payload at Space Launch Complex-6 at 1:10 p.m. PST. Credit: Pat Corkery, ULA.

No comments: