Rocket launch to carry spy satellites into space

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Friday's takeoff took place at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

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The top secret NRO missions are generally classified - so it is unclear what specifically the satellite will be doing on its orbit around earth. What we do know is that the NROL-47 mission patch depicts a white knight brandishing a sword at a terrifying brown dragon. "My honest thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners at the NRO and U.S. Air Force who made this, our 27 NRO launch, possible". Thursday's attempt was scrubbed "due to an issue with a ground system valve". Orbital ATK produced the solid rocket motors at its facilities in Magna and Clearfield, Utah, where it has manufactured GEM-60s for the Delta IV launch vehicle since the initial flight in 2002.

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Update January 11th 12:55PM ET: The article has been updated to reflect launch delays. 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. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala. Each configuration is comprised of a common booster core (CBC), a cryogenic upper stage and either a 4-m-diameter or 5-m-diameter payload fairing (PLF). The Delta IV M+(5,2) and Delta IV M+(5,4) have two and four SRMs, respectively, and 5-m-diameter PLF.

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"This was an incredibly important launch for the 30th Space Wing and our mission partners", Wood said. While it's no longer a secret, it does still use its systems to collect information and "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 USA forces to support the war on terrorism and other continuing operations", according to the NRO site. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.

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