The Delta IV Heavy rocket’s triple set of boosters thundered a classified payload into the skies above Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon, casting a big noise into nearby residences. The package to be delivered for the National Reconnaissance Office was like catnip for NASA observers; some media outlets speculated by process of elimination that it carried a replacement satellite for sun-synchronous orbit, or one that illuminated a designated spot on the planet.
For “Team Vandenberg,” the mission was the culmination of a successful collaboration between numerous agencies, among them the 30th Space Wing, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron, the National Reconnaissance Office, and United Launch Alliance, said Colonel Anthony Mastalier, commander of the 30th Space Wing based at Vandenberg. The launch represented the ninth of a Delta Heavy for Vandenberg, and is the largest rocket rising from the West Coast. Only SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is said to be larger.
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