United Launch Alliance has launched a military spy satellite atop an Atlas 5 rocket.
The Atlas V — featuring four solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage — lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:50 p.m. PDT on Sept. 23.
Details of the satellite’s deployment into orbit weren’t revealed on grounds of national security. That’s in keeping with past classified missions.
Centennial, Colo.-based ULA — a joint venture of aerospace-military contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin — has conducted 25 launches for the NRO. One of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, the NRO was created in 1961 at the height of the U.S.-Russian Cold War.
ULA’s most recent Atlas V-NRO launch had been set for Sept. 21 until a faulty booster-stage battery prompted a postponement. The company’s next launch for the NRO is set for Oct. 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.