United Launch Alliance has done something it has been waiting for more than a few months. ULA’s Delta 4 Rocket was used to launch yet another US Spy satellite, which has entered the orbit successfully. It should be noted that the Delta 4 is one of the most powerful rockets in the world and was used for other launches as well. The payload contains a classified rocket.
The rocket actually boosted another National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite, which would be associated with other satellites on the same mission. It is worth noting that the launch was expected to take place quite earlier but technical and weather issues had delayed the launch. Now that the launch has been done, ULA is adding another success story to the deal.
“The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Air Force and NASA. With its advanced upper stage, the Delta IV Heavy can take more than 14,000 pounds directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories,” says the official press release from United Launch Alliance.
Specific details about the mission are not available as of now, but several experts have noted earlier that the current mission would be succeeded by the block 5 KH-11 optical imaging reconnaissance satellite. “The NROL-71 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on Jan. 19 at 11:10 a.m. PST. The mission is in support of our country’s national defense,” added ULA.
It is common for the missions in this category to keep everything under secrecy, as the details may tamper the actual purpose and confidential aspects of national security. For ULA, however, it marks another area of expertise and power, and the firm would be conducting more launches this year.