A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. A minute and a half after that, now more than 60 miles up and traveling at more than 5,000 mph, the protective nose cone fairing was jettisoned, exposing the satellite to the space environment.
The third time was the charm for United Launch Alliance and its twice-delayed NROL-47 mission. These have been used on the Delta IV since its initial flight in 2002.
Last year, ULA launched three NRO satellites atop Atlas V rockets.More news: Vice President Pence to lead USA delegation to Winter Olympics
The Delta 4 climbs away from the California coast. The name of the spy satellite is NROL-47, and it is a classified mission.
The Delta IV family of launch vehicles combines design simplicity, manufacturing efficiency, and streamlined mission and vehicle integration to meet customer requirements to launch high-priority U.S. Air Force (USAF), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), NASA, and commercial payloads to orbit.
The rocket is carrying a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite, with the mission dubbed NROL-47.More news: Malaysia to pay U.S. firm to find plane in 90 days
According to Ted Molczan, an independent satellite analyst, the secretive payload could be the latest Future Imagery Architecture radar satellite that is capable of observing the ground through the veils of clouds and even at night. Four such satellites, built by Boeing, are believed to be already in orbit.
The NRO, on the other hand, said that the launch was one of two launches planned by the agency for 2018. 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. But no other details were provided.
On Dec. 22, Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched a rocket from Vandenberg just after sunset, creating an aerial spectacle witnessed by thousands.More news: Walmart to raise wages and give bonuses