After several delays, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the NROL-47 satellite into a polar orbit.
Just what is NROL-47? No one outside of the National Reconnaissance Office really knows for sure. Of course, we know it was inserted into a polar orbit of some type, given the fact it was launched from Vandenberg, and the launch window wasn’t as critical as it has been for some past launches, telling me maybe this was a signals interception payload rather than an optical imaging satellite – I don’t know for sure, and as interesting as this stuff is to me, I don’t research individual current NRO payloads nearly as much as you think I would. Don’t know why…
Update: sure enough, it is a radar reconnaissance satellite, according to some other space news website reports.
In any case, the launch itself was another beauty, again, delayed due to varying issues on the ground. Once it left, though, the Delta IV behaved just as it should, getting the job done with a beauty that very few other rockets have had since, really the Titans.
Here we have the launch livestream. I’ll make things easy for you, and have it start at just before liftoff – I don’t think too many people want to sit around and wait the nearly 2 hours before then with the rocket just sitting on the pad. I however rather enjoyed the 4 solid hours yesterday waiting for it to launch (only for it to get scrubbed) and the bit of time today where it was delayed. The silence interspersed with the internal launch team communications is quite calming to me.
Enjoy the launch!