United Launch Alliance recently raised a Delta 4-Heavy rocket, one of four left in the company’s backlog, vertical on its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in preparation for liftoff with a top secret U.S. government spy satellite at the end of April.
Weeks after the launch of an earlier trio of Chinese military satellites, another spacecraft triplet successfully took off Feb. 24 aboard a Long March 4C rocket on a clandestine mission that analysts believe may involve spying on foreign naval forces.
SpaceX plans two Falcon Heavy launches this year for the U.S. Space Force in July and October, and United Launch Alliance has four national security space missions on its 2021 schedule, according to a military spokesperson.
Russia sent a spy satellite into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket Feb. 2 from a snowy launch pad at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, setting off on a mission to detect, locate, and characterize foreign military radio signals.
Military officials in charge of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral project more than 50 launches from Florida’s Space Coast this year, with SpaceX responsible for most of the launch activity, the vice commander of the 45th Space Wing said this week.
An optical reconnaissance satellite for the French military took off atop a Soyuz launcher Tuesday, riding the Russian-made rocket from a tropical spaceport in South America into a 300-mile-high polar orbit to begin a 10-year mission surveying the globe.