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: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

17 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

23 hours ago

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

Dec 19, 2014

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

Dec 19, 2014

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

Dec 19, 2014

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

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.