US defense satellite launched from California

Sep 13, 2012

(AP)—An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office blasted off Thursday from the central California coast.

The launch vehicle's main engine ignited on time for a mission described only as being in support of national defense.

"We've just seen a successful liftoff," United Launch Alliance commentator Don Spencer said after confirmation of upper stage ignition and separation of the aerodynamic fairing covering the payload about 4½ minutes into the flight.

As is customary during such secrecy-laden missions, a webcast of the launch ended at that point.

It was the fourth launch this year for the NRO, which operates the nation's system of intelligence-gathering satellites. The launch was delayed six weeks due to launch range equipment problems.

For the first time on an NRO flight, the rocket's excess capacity was used to boost 11 tiny satellites for other customers.

Called Cubesats, the small satellites will conduct research on subjects ranging from space weather to tracking maritime shipping containers.

In addition to the Army, Aerospace Corp., NASA and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Cubesats include projects by the University of Southern California; University of Colorado, Boulder; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; University of California, Berkeley; and Kentucky's Morehead State University.

Explore further: Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end

0 shares

Related Stories

Rocket launches from California coast

Apr 15, 2011

A rocket carrying a national security payload has been successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.

Launch delayed for satellite to watch space debris

Jul 06, 2010

(AP) -- The launch of a new U.S. Air Force space surveillance satellite has been delayed due to a software problem in a rocket similar to the one that will lift the satellite into orbit.

Recommended for you

Mercury MESSENGER nears epic mission end

5 hours ago

A spacecraft that carries a sensor built at the University of Michigan is about to crash into the planet closest to the sun—just as NASA intended.

Dawn glimpses Ceres' north pole

7 hours ago

After spending more than a month in orbit on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured several views of the sunlit north pole of this intriguing world. These images were taken ...

A blueprint for clearing the skies of space debris

Apr 17, 2015

An international team of scientists have put forward a blueprint for a purely space-based system to solve the growing problem of space debris. The proposal, published in Acta Astronautica, combines a super-wide field-of-view telesc ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.