Today United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched their Altas V rocket at 17:49 GMT/ 12:49 PM EST from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sat on top of which was an American spy satellite called the NROL-79 satellite.
This launch was part of a mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), who oversee the fleet of spy satellites for the United States.
We don’t know what NROL-79’s reconnaissance mission will be, what it will be doing, or where it will be orbiting as details about the satellite are classified, however, given that rocket launches are quite obvious, they were able to publicise the launch, which is great news because that means that we got to watch it.
After the launch, the Atlas V should have reached Mach 1, with speeds of around 767 mph just 81 seconds into the flight, 4 minutes and 3 seconds after the booster’s main engine would have cut off, and then 6 seconds after that the two stages would have been separated.
Of course, the video doesn’t show much after that as it is a classified mission.
But it was a cool launch to watch, especially since it was the 70th launch of the Atlas V, which began life back in August 2002. It also marks the 35th launch of the Atlas V’s 401 configuration.