Photos: Payload stacked for Thursday’s Atlas 5

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set for Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:17 p.m. local time (10:17 p.m. EST; 0317 GMT).

“Our team and mission partners have put a lot of hard work into preparing
for this important mission for our Nation,” said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority. “We are looking forward to a safe and successful launch to close out an amazing year.”

The mission was known simply as NROL-35, a classified satellite-delivery flight for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO is the secretive government agency that controls the country’s spy satellites.

These photos show the payload being delivered to the Space Launch Complex 3 pad on Nov. 21.

Credit: ULA