Photos: NROL-42 payload joins Atlas 5 booster for launch

This photo gallery shows the classified National Reconnaissance Office payload, already encapsulated in the 18-foot-diameter nose cone, being lifted atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas-Centaur rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 3-East pad. This milestone was achieved on Aug. 27.

Launch of NROL-42 is planned for Thursday night, Sept. 21, at 10:38 p.m. local time.

Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

See earlier NROL-42 coverage.