August 15, 2018

Photos: Delta 4 blasts off from Vandenberg’s historic SLC-6 launch pad


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.

A United Launch Delta 4 rocket lifted off Friday from the SLC-6 launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, powering into orbit from a historic seaside complex originally developed for crewed missions.

The 217-foot-tall (66-meter) Delta 4 rocket, boosted by two strap-on solid-fueled rocket motors and a hydrogen-fueled RS-68A main engine, lifted off from Space Launch Complex 6 at 2:11 p.m. PST (5:11 p.m. EST; 2211 GMT) Friday with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Codenamed NROL-47, the top secret spacecraft is believed to be a radar spy satellite owned by the NRO, an agency in the U.S. government’s intelligence community.

It was the 36th flight of a Delta 4 rocket since 2002, and the first of four Delta 4 missions planned in 2018.

The SLC-6 launch pad was originally developed for the U.S. Air Force’s canceled Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, then re-built for the Air Force’s plans to launch space shuttles from California. That initiative was canceled in the aftermath of the Challenger accident in 1986.

Credit: ULA
Credit: ULA
Credit: ULA
Credit: ULA
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Clayton Wear
Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Clayton Wear

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!