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Default Atlas V 541 launch with NROL-67, April 10, 2014
by Galactic Penguin SST 04-10-2014, 10:11 AM

BEWARE - BLACKBIRD IS SPYING ON YOU!

Well probably not this latest big secret spysat for the US National Reconnaissance Office - its main targets are aboard elsewhere on the eastern hemisphere anyway - but the size of the rocket launching it should show that for reconnaissance satellites it should be one of a very big kind.

Being the first time the NRO has ordered such a large Atlas V for launching its spysats, NROL-67 seems to be the first of a new breed as well. And interestingly the launch exclusion zones reported beforehand shows that it will head directly east - an indication of it being heading to geostationary orbit (perhaps on a 4+ hour direct ride on the Atlas). This, plus the hint from the launch logo showing a flying horse beating its wings and movements of USA spysats in geostationary orbit as observed by satellite observers, seems to point to NROL-67 as being a new generation of electronic and signals intelligence (ELINT) spysat, with the "wings" actually hinting at big antennas on the bird that would pick out radars and satellite/ground telemetry from all over the world (similar trends were seen with patches for previous NRO launches over the past 20-30 years). This Atlas V rocket can put around 3.5 tonnes directly to GSO.

Now after grounded since March 25 due to a radar fire at Cape Canaveral, it is finally heading for space. Whatever it will do, it surely will give yet another fresh enigma to us observers.

Launch date:
April 10, 2014
Launch time:
17:45 - 18:26 UTC / 1:45 - 2:26 pm EDT
Launch site:
SLC-41, Cape Canaveral AFB, Florida
L*Click here to restart the timer*

Viewing the Launch Live:
Live broadcast will be available at 1:25 p.m. EDT / 17:25 UTC on launch day on the ULA Web site.The broadcast *Click here to restart the timer* minutes*Click here to restart the timer*
Mission Description:
This launch supports the military's national defense mission. The payload is confidential and is designated as National Reconnaissance Office L-67 (NROL-67). The flow of official information about this mission will cease at the point of payload fairing separation. No further comment about the status of the mission will be made after this milestone.
Mission Insignia (clickable)


Links:

Launch Updates:
Launch Vehicle:
The Atlas 5 was developed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services as part of the US Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Each Atlas 5 rocket uses a Russian-built RD-180 engine burning kerosene and liquid oxygen to power its first stage and an American-built RL10 engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to power its Centaur upper stage.


The Atlas 5 launcher will fly in the so-called 541 configuration, denoting a 5.4-meter payload fairing, 4 strap-on solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

Specifications
Gross mass:
  • 338640 kg (746570 lb)
Payload:
  • 14019 kg (30908 lb) SSO
  • 8290 kg (18270 lb) GTO
Height:
  • 58.30 m (191.20 ft)
Diameter:
  • 3.81 m (12.49 ft)
Span:
  • 3.81 m (12.49 ft)
Thrust:
  • 3827.00 kN (860343 lbf)



Weather Forecast for Titusville, Florida on April 10, 2014 (2 p.m.)

A good deal of sunshine. High 25C. Winds NE at 10 to 15 kmh.

TimeTempsDew PointRelative HumidityPrecipSnowCloud coverPressureWindWeather
2 PM24C12C47%0%0%15%1025 hPa14 km/h ENE Clear

Last edited by Galactic Penguin SST; 04-11-2014 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:25 AM   #2
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Payload preparation:






Roll-out to the pad:






The calendar item for this launch: Atlas V - NROL-67 Launch

Last edited by IronRain; 04-10-2014 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:40 PM   #3
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Mission updates:

Quote:
1045 GMT (6:45 a.m. EDT)
The countdown begins now for the mid-day launch of the Atlas 5 rocket to deploy the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-67 satellite for intelligence-gathering.
Clocks are picking up the seven-hour sequence of work that will prepare the booster, payload and ground systems for blastoff at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT).

Soon the launch team will begin powering up the rocket to commence standard pre-flight tests. Over the subsequent few hours, final preps for the Centaur's liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen systems will be performed, along with a test of the rocket's guidance system and the first stage propulsion and hydraulic preps, internal battery checks and testing of the C-band system used to track the rocket as it flies downrange, plus a test of the S-band telemetry relay system. The Complex 41 site will be cleared of all personnel at 10:50 a.m.

A planned half-hour hold begins at 11:05 a.m. when the count reaches T-minus 120 minutes. Near the end of the hold, the team will be polled at 11:32 a.m. to verify all is in readiness to start fueling the rocket for launch.

Supercold liquid oxygen begins flowing into the Centaur upper stage around 11:52 a.m., followed by the first stage filling around 12:05 p.m. Liquid hydrogen fuel loading for Centaur will be completed a short time later.

A final hold is scheduled at the T-minus 4 minute mark starting at 1:31 p.m. That 10-minute pause will give everyone a chance to finish any late work and assess the status of the rocket, payload, Range and weather before proceeding into the last moments of the countdown.

The launch window opens at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT).
Quote:
1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT)
The Atlas-Centaur rocket has been powered up at Complex 41 and guidance system testing is getting started for today's launch, as the countdown progresses as planned.
Quote:
1145 GMT (7:45 a.m. EDT)
In today's first weather briefing to mission managers, all current conditions are observed GO for launch of the Atlas 5 rocket and odds for the 1:45 p.m. EDT liftoff time stand at 90 percent favorable. The main concern that meteorologists will be watching is the thickness of clouds that the rocket would fly through.
The outlook for the launch window now predicts a few clouds at 4,000 and 32,000 feet, good visibility, easterly winds of 12 gusting to 15 knots and a temperature of 72 degrees F.

If the launch should slip to Friday for some reason, there is a 90 percent chance of acceptable weather with a similar forecast.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:57 PM   #4
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1250 GMT (8:50 a.m. EDT)
Quote:
The C-band and S-band systems are being tested at this point in the countdown. They are used for vehicle tracking and telemetry relay, respectively.The countdown continues on schedule for the 1:45 p.m. EDT launch.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:22 PM   #5
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Worth reading if you want to know about the possible identities of the secret bird: Atlas V readied for NROL-67 military mission (NASASpaceflight.com)
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:47 PM   #6
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1345 GMT (9:45 a.m. EDT)
Quote:
Internal battery checks are getting started as the counts the final four hours to launch.
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Old 04-10-2014, 02:58 PM   #7
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1456 GMT (10:56 a.m. EDT)
Quote:
The final hands-on work has wrapped up at the launch pad and technicians have departed the complex. Safety officials just confirmed that the surrounding danger area has been cleared of all workers for the remainder of the countdown.
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:23 PM   #8
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Webcast starting.....
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:23 PM   #9
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Weather is GO for launch.
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:46 PM   #10
MaverickSawyer
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GO for launch!

---------- Post added at 10:46 ---------- Previous post was at 10:39 ----------

LIFTOFF!!!!!
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:12 PM   #11
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ULA has confirmed mission success 4+ hours after launch!
What an amazing rocket the Atlas V is!















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