Photo Gallery: Launch of NROL-37 on Delta IV Heavy
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — This past Saturday, the most powerful Delta IV launched a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. Spaceflight Insider called all hands on deck to capture this rare and spectacular event. The next Delta IV Heavy is scheduled to launch no sooner than 2018.
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A massive United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle was used to send the clandestine NROL-37 payload on its way to orbit on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37B (SLC-37B) located in Florida on June 11, 2016, the mission sent the classified payload to a geosynchronous orbit, some 22,300 miles (35,888 kilometers) above the Earth. Upon reaching its destination it was redesignated as USA-268. The Delta IV rocket used on this mission stood an impressive 235 feet (72 meters) in height and consisted of three common booster cores attached together - producing an estimated two million lbs of thrust.