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Local News

Secret Payload Poised to Launch from Vandenberg AFB

Atlas V set for blastoff Thursday afternoon carrying payload for the National Reconnaissance Office

An Atlas V rocket carrying a top-secret payload is scheduled to launch Thursday afternoon from Vandenberg Air Force Base .

Liftoff had been planned for Aug. 2 from Space Launch Complex 3 on the base, but was delayed due to an “up-range instrumentation issue,” according to United Launch Alliance, which is overseeing the mission.

“The issue has been resolved, and the range is ready to support a safe and successful launch,” according to launch officials.

Launch time is set for 2:39 p.m.

In addition to the spacecraft being sent into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office, the Atlas will carry 11 smaller auxiliary payloads, or “cubesats,” into space, according to ULA.

These smaller payloads were developed by the Space and Missile Command, the Aerospace Corp., USC, the University of Colorado, Cal Poly, Morehead State University, UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the ULA said.

They will study space weather and communications, space environment, debris mitigation, maritime shipping container tracking and spaceflight safety and orbit refinement, according to th ULA.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture owned by Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company to provide launch services for the U.S. government, NASA, the military and other organizations.

The Atlas V stands nearly 200 feet tall and weighs more than 735,000 pounds, not including payload.

Its main engine, which is fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, can produce more than 860,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff, according to the ULA. Solid rocket boosters are sometimes used to increase thrust at liftoff.

An upper-stage Centaur rocket — fueled by liquid oxygen/hydrogen — develops about 22,300 pounds of thrust, and houses the spacecraft’s navigation unit.

Click here for more information about the launch.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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