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In Photos: NROL-47 Spy Satellite Launches Into Space on Delta IV Rocket

A Secret Mission is Born

United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts

On Jan. 12, 2018, the U.S. spy satellite NROL-47 launched into space atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. See video of the launch here! See photos from the stunning launch here. This Photo: The liftoff moment for NROL-47 as a secret mission is born.


United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts

The Delta IV rocket carrying NROL-47 lifted off at 2:11 p.m. PST (5:11 p.m. EST/2211 GMT) after two days of delays due to weather and technical issues. ULA launched the mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

U.S. National Reconnaissance Office

Here's a close look at the NRO's mission emblem for the NROL-47 mission. "It depicts a battle between good and evil and signifies dedication to mission, military expertise and camaraderie," NRO officials wrote in a description of the image. "Mali Nunquam Praevalebunt" is Latin for "Evil will never prevail" and represents NRO's commitment to national security."

A Spy Satellite Ascends


This distant view shows the Delta IV rocket carrying NROL-47 as it ascends into the afternoon sky from its seaside pad at Vandenberg.

Next Stop Space


A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket topped with the NROL-47 payload rises off the pad at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan. 12, 2018.

NROL-47 Spy Satellite Payload Assembly

United Launch Alliance

The classified NROL-47 spy satellite, encapsulated in its protective payload fairing, is seen before being attached to its Delta IV rocket for a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Ready to Fly

Jeff Spotts/ULA

A Delta IV rocket stands ready to launch the NROL-47 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-6.

Mobile Service Tower Rollback: NROL-47

Jeff Spotts/ULA

The Mobile Service Tower is rolled back from a Delta IV rocket at Space Launch Complex-6. The Delta IV Med+ (5,2) rocket will launch the NROL-47 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Rocket in Twilight

Jeff Spotts/ULA

The glow of twilight offers a stunning backdrop for the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying NROL-47.

Lit for Launch

Jeff Spotts/ULA

Floodlights illuminate the Delta IV rocket ahead of the NROL-47 launch on Jan. 12, 2018.

NROl-47: The Poster

United Launch Alliance

The mission poster for the ULA Delta IV rocket mission launching the classified NROL-47 spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.