Delta 4 Rocket With US Spy Satellite Makes Successful Launch From California

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon

The first launch of the year was a success for United Launch Alliance (ULA) after a week that included several delays due to winds and a mechanism malfunction. NROL-47 is NRO's 50th launch since 1996. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

That Falcon 9 rocket launch delivered 10 satellites into low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a communications company.

It marked the 27th NRO launch by United Launch Alliance, which is a Colorado-based aerospace partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

United Launch Alliance is scheduled to make a third attempt at a rocket launch Friday afternoon.

The Delta IV rocket was built in Decatur, Alabama.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon

Orbital ATK provided two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60) for the Delta IV rocket.

"We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch", said Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, in a base news release. The rocket is a "5, 2" variant and it featured a 5-meter-wide (16.5 feet) payload fairing, as reported by Space.com. These have been used on the Delta IV since its initial flight in 2002. The RS-68A engine provided an estimated 702,000 pounds of thrust during the initial phase of the flight.

The launch was delayed twice earlier this week.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. At present, that mission is scheduled to get underway on Thursday, Jan. 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 located in Floridae launch is scheduled for Jan. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

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