The Atlas 5 rocket that will carry into space a spy satellite and seven CubeSats is preparing for a launch on Thursday towards an undisclosed destination.
The device will help national security agencies to gather information directly from space. The final orbit of the device and its purpose were not disclosed.
The Spy Satellite Launch
The Atlas 5 rocket started to be used since 2007 and had completed a dozen missions. It has a nose cone of 14 feet in diameter and two boosters for better thrust at launch.
The route will involve a 99-degree flight, while the rest of the details on the launch had not been publicly released.
The weather forecasts display favorable conditions for the launch, with the exception of a stray coastal shower.
The content of the rocket belongs to the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that manages the spy satellites.
However, the name of the device is supposed to be World-View-4, and it will share Atlas 5 with seven CubeSats. Cubesats are miniaturized satellites that have a size of only 10 cm and that weight almost a kilogram each.
The technical experts say that the launch of the satellite will not be impaired by the seven CubeSats that will be sharing the ride. Meanwhile, the costs of the launch will be smaller, and the CubeSats, as small as they are, will not need a separate launch vehicle.
The cube starts will be released into the Low Earth Orbit, on routes different from the one of the WorldView-4 satellite.
The National Reconnaissance Office
The agency is one of the 16 intelligence agencies in the US. It has almost 3,000 employees, and it is funded by the Military Intelligence Program and the National Intelligence Program. The headquarters are located in Chantilly, Virginia.
The organization was initiated in 1961 when it started to operate as a black agency. Its existence was finally declassified in 1992, and only in 1996 it began to announce its space launches.
The first imagery satellite was CORONA, operational between 1960 and 1972. During that time, the device collected 800,000 images and completed 145 missions.
The agency operates naval surveillance birds, imaging and eavesdropping spacecraft and data-relay satellites. The systems fly thousands of miles away from Earth.
The NRO director states that the agency offers policymakers and warfighters information that is both flexible and has a worldwide reach. The organization also provides access to denied areas, an agile system, and real-time engagement support.
Thursday’s launch will be the 45th public space trip made by the secret agency.
Image Source: Wikipedia