The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) successfully launched its top secret satellite, the NROL-79, aboard an Atlas V rocket. The exact purpose of the spy satellite’s mission is clouded in secrecy. In an article on Space.com, senior writer Mike Wall, discusses the successful launch by United Launch Alliance.
A new American satellite soared into Earth orbit today (March 1), kicking off a reconnaissance mission that’s shrouded in secrecy.
The NROL-79 satellite launched into space atop a two-stage United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at 12:49 p.m. EST (1749 GMT) today, rising off a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NROL-79 will be operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which oversees the United States’ fleet of spy satellites. It’s unclear what NROL-79 will be doing, or where it will be orbiting; details about the spacecraft and its mission are classified.
After lifting off, the Atlas V headed south, hugging the coasts of California and the Mexican state of Baja California as it rose into the sky. If everything went according to plan, the rocket reached Mach 1 — the speed of sound, about 767 mph (1,234 km/h) — 81 seconds into flight, according to a ULA mission-description video. The booster’s main engine cut off 4 minutes and 3 seconds after liftoff, and the rocket’s two stages separated 6 seconds later. The payload fairing protecting NROL-79 was jettisoned 4 minutes and 27 seconds after launch.
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