These photos show the fiery liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 10, riding three pillars of flame from its hydrogen-fueled RS-68A main engines.
The ULA heavy-lifter took off from pad 37B at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 8:09 p.m. EST on Dec. 10 (0109 GMT on Dec. 11) with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency.
The Delta 4-Heavy’s three Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engines produced 2.1 million pounds of thrust, equivalent to 51 million horsepower, to power the launcher off the pad.
The rocket’s upper stage delivered the mission’s top secret cargo to its targeted orbit thousands of miles above Earth around six hours later. ULA confirmed the mission was a success.
The launch marked the 12th flight of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket since 2004, and the 41st flight of ULA’s Delta 4 rocket family overall.
Read our full report for details on the mission.
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