US to Launch Secret Spy Satellite Saturday

If everything happens according to plan, United States will make another spy satellite reach the space this weekend.

The spacecraft is named NROL-71 and it is scheduled to set up at 2:05 EST (1905 GMT, 11:05 local time in California) on Saturday (January 19) on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy Rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. This was announced by the ULA representative on January 15.

The launch of the satellite could be watched at Space.com which is licensed by ULA or you can watch it directly through the company. The tower for mobile service moves back from Delta IV Heavy Rocket with UL-Delta (ULA), which lifts the NRO’s NROL-71 mission for the preparation of launch from the Space Launch Complex at 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The take-off is to be held on January 19.

ULA Delta IV Heavy Rocket
Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

The liftoff of NROL-7 by ULA was initially to be held in early December but the launch was hindered and pushed back several times due to bad weather and technical issues. The last attempt was made on December 19 but was disallowed due to a small wet game on Delta IV Heavy. That problem took several weeks to solve.

The vice president of the commercial and government programs of ULA, Gary Wentz, said in a statement made on January 5, “We continue to address technical issues which caused last strain of Delta IV Heavy and we are currently working with our partners, the US Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), to make sure that we fly when it is safe to do so. We understand that this is a high priority mission for nation’s warfighters, and we take our commitment to mission insurance and security seriously.”

NRO will be operating the NROL-71, which also operates US spy fleets. The operations of aircraft of such nature are usually classified and NROL-71 is no exception. The details about the mission of this satellite have not been disclosed yet by the government officials. Also, the ULA should terminate the launch site about 6 minutes after the takeoff to preserve its privacy.

Source: Delta IV NROL-71

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