Seems like every few months the National Reconnaissance Office is sending another reconnaissance satellite into orbit – yesterday the payload was NROL-79, launched into a polar orbit from Vandeberg Air Force Base on an Atlas V booster in the standard 401 configuration.
It was a somewhat early morning launch of a naval reconnaissance satellite. The polar orbit ensures the craft will travel over all points on the Earth as it rotates, ensuring complete coverage of intended targets as orbital mechanics permit.
While the payload is interesting in any launch, little is known about these satellites outside of the government, and such aren’t really the subject of these articles – the launches themselves are. That being said, here’s the United Launch Alliance livestream of the launch from SLC-3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
And of course, for those who just want the goodies, here’s the launch highlights video clip!