US Spy Satellite Launched From Calif. 01/20 09:59
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) -- A powerful Delta 4 Heavy rocket
carrying a U.S. spy satellite lifted off Saturday from California.
The rocket propelled the National Reconnaissance Office satellite from
Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time, arcing over the Pacific
Ocean west of Los Angeles as it headed toward space.
The outer boosters of the rocket separated about four minutes into flight,
followed shortly by separation of the central first-stage booster and
successful ignition of the upper stage.
As is customary with classified payloads, United Launch Alliance webcast the
liftoff only until the aerodynamic fairing covering the payload was discarded.
Details of the mission, dubbed NROL-71, were not released.
The launch had been repeatedly delayed since late last year for various
reasons including a hydrogen leak, high winds and a problem with ground
The National Reconnaissance Office is responsible for U.S. intelligence
United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
The Delta 4 Heavy stands 233 feet (71 meters) tall.