A new U.S. military satellite streaked into the sky early this morning on a clandestine reconnaissance mission, lighting up the pre-dawn sky over its California launch site.
The National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-45 satellite blasted off this morning (Feb. 10) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:40 a.m. EST (3:40 a.m. local time; 1140 GMT), riding a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket to orbit. You can see video of the spysat’s dazzling predawn launch here.
It’s unknown what exactly NROL-45 will be doing as it zips around Earth; the satellite’s payload is classified. A brief mission description on ULA’s website simply says the NROL-45 mission will “support national defense.”
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is the federal agency in charge of designing, building and operating the United States’ fleet of spy satellites.