Classified NROL-47 mission launches from Vandenberg

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A Delta IV rocket is scheduled for launch Thursday afternoon from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.

Friday's launch took place five days after the USA reportedly lost another secret satellite - named Zuma - on a Falcon 9 rocket manufactured by rival rocket company Space X, according to a ULA webcast.

As usual with classified payloads, no details about the NROL-47 satellite were released.

It's possible ULA's launch delays were the result of a more cautious approach - adopted in the wake of the Zuma mission failure.

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The launch will be the agency's first in 2018 at the air base northwest of Santa Barbara. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala.

"We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch", said Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, in a base news release.

Orbital ATK provided two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60) for the Delta IV rocket.

"The successful launch of a payload in support of our national security and that of allied forces demands the best propulsion systems available", said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake in a statement issued by the company. Less than three hours prior to the scheduled launch, ULA tweeted that there were no issues with the rocket or having to do with the launch at that time. "Aerojet Rocketdyne employees across the country work hard to ensure 100 percent mission success, and our role in yet another launch for the National Reconnaissance Office demonstrates the trust and confidence in our propulsion".

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