Atlas V Launches NROL-38 Spy Satellite

Ascent
Atlas V 401 Ascends with the National Reconnaissance Office NROL-38 Satellite
Image Credit: ULA

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) placed a new spy satellite into orbit this morning. An Atlas V 401 left the Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral at 5:28 AM Phoenix time (1228 UTC) carrying the NROL-38 satellite. This is ULA’s 50th EELV launch and uses a Centaur upper stage to carry the satellite to Geosynchronous orbit.

The mission is classified, but some clues about the mission can be gathered from the rocket used and the notice to airmen (NOTAMS) issued for the launch. The Atlas V 401 means the spacecraft is relatively light, and the flight path was due East from the Cape, which indicates a low inclination orbit. The spacecraft is likely a Satellite Data System (SDS) communications satellite, destined for geostationary orbit.

Ignition
Ignition
Image Credit: ULA

liftoff
Liftoff
Image Credit: ULA

Ascent
Ascent
Image Credit: ULA

downrange
Downrange
Image Credit: ULA

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One thought on “Atlas V Launches NROL-38 Spy Satellite

  1. Pingback: June 2012 « NSS Phoenix Space News

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