The scheduled ULA launch comes less than a week after SpaceX launched a mysterious Zuma payload for the United States government and allegedly failed to deliver it to orbit.
The United Launch Alliance successfully launched one of its Delta 4 rocket into space on January 12 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The launch had initially been planned for Wednesday, but was pushed to a day later due to high ground winds, base officials reported Wednesday. Assuming confirmation of a problem-free launch Friday, ULA's record will stand at 124 successful flights in a row, including 27 for the NRO. NROL-47 will join the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) satellite constellation, which flies under the code name Topaz.
"As the nation's most trustworthy launch provider, today's launch exemplifies ULA's ongoing commitment to 100 percent mission success", said Will Crawford, ULA's NRO program manager via a release.
If you see a rocket in the sky tonight, don't panic it's supposed to be there. According to the organization's website, "together with other Defense Department satellites, the NRO systems play a crucial role in providing global communications, precision navigation, early warning of missile launches and potential military aggression, signals intelligence, and near real-time imagery to US forces to support the war on terrorism and other continuing operations".
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The recent launch of the Delta 4 rocket into orbit came days after SpaceX's launch of another secretive satellite codenamed Zuma. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. "Latest weather briefing shows an 80% chance of favorable weather".
Founded in 2006, ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The launch will happen at Space Launch Complex-6, which sits about 140 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Orbital ATK's contributions to the Delta IV include cutting-edge technologies from across the company, including two Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60), large composite structures and the propellant tank and nozzle for the main engine.
Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the launch commander.