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The largest rocket ever to be launched from the West Coast blasts off Thursday afternoon with a secret payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the contrail should be visible from Orange County.
The unmanned Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle at 235 feet is 51 feet taller than the space shuttle and its propellant tank on the launch pad.
It’s scheduled to soar into space at 1:08 p.m. on what should be a mostly clear, windy afternoon. Orange County residents who look to the northwest should be able to see the white contrail of the rocket.
“It’s the largest vehicle ever launched from the West Coast, including the Titans launched in 2006,” said Vandenberg spokeswoman Jennifer Green. “Definitely, you guys might be able to see this one.”
The launch also will be Webcast by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and the builders of the Delta IV.
The rocket will carry a secret, “national security” payload for the National Reconnaisance Office, an agency that “designs, builds and operates the nation’s reconnaissance satellites,” according to its Web site.
While Launch Alliance spokesman Michael J. Rein declined to say whether the classified payload is a satellite, he did say that overall, Cape Canaveral launches are typically used to loft satellites into an equatorial orbit, while Vandenberg is typically used to launch them into polar orbits.
Some Orange County readers reported seeing the contrail of a smaller, Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg the evening of Nov. 5.
The rocket is set to lift in in exactly 5 minutes from this post at 1:08 pm PST. Unfortunately I am about 3000 miles away on the east coast, so I wont be able to see it. If any members are close by and looking to post images of the launch, please share them with us all here.
The patch for NRO Launch 49 depicts a phoenix rising from the flames. The patch also features fourteen stars, including one being carried in the bird’s beak. There also appears to be a fifteenth star obscured by the bird’s wing. There’s a long tradition in such patches for the stars to symbolize the number of payloads launched. Fourteen stars just happens to be the number of KH-11 type electro-optical satellites successfully launched by the United States over the years—including the one being carried into orbit by this bird. A fifteenth launch—the one obscured star—ended in failure.
Originally posted by this_is_who_we_are
T-Minus how long and counting? When's this thing supposed to launch?
Originally posted by Twinsdelight
I live in San Diego CA.... I will watch for this thing.... BTW... This is my first post here... I will have my video camera ready...