Launch Webcast! Delta IV Heavy Rocket Launches US Spy Satellite NROL-71 Staff |
The mobile service tower rolls back from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NRO's NROL-71 mission in preparation for launch from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Liftoff is targeted for Jan. 19, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Update for 2:50 p.m. EST: A United Launch Alliance Delta IB Heavy rocket successfully launched the new U.S. spy satellite NROL-71 into orbit today. Read our wrap story here.   Photos Launch Video!

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch a classified spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on Saturday (Jan. 19) at 2:05 p.m. EST (1905 GMT). It will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a Delta IV rocket. A live webcast of the launch with commentary will begin 20 minutes ahead of the planned liftoff at 1:45 p.m. EST (1845 GMT). You can watch it live in the window above, courtesy of ULA. 

Read our preview story: US to Launch Secret Spy Satellite Saturday

From ULA:

"The Launch Readiness Review at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California today [Jan. 18] culminated with officials giving a unanimous 'go' for liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office on Saturday.

"The LRR, led by Lou Mangieri, ULA's NROL-71 launch director, assessed all aspects of mission readiness, discussed the status of pre-flight processing work, heard technical overviews of the countdown and flight, and previewed the weather forecast.

"At the conclusion of the meeting, senior leaders were polled and then signed the Launch Readiness Certificate.

"The launch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. PST (2:05 p.m. EST; 1905 UTC).

"'We are proud to launch this critical payload in support of our nation's national security mission,' said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. 'As the nation's premiere launch provider, the teams have worked diligently to ensure continued mission success, delivering our customer's payloads to the precise orbits requested.'

"Weather forecasters from the Air Force's 30th Weather Squadron predict a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch. The outlook includes a few high-level clouds, northerly winds of 12 to 18 knots and a temperature near 60 degrees F. The only concern for a launch weather rule violation will be winds."

"Our live video webcast also can be viewed on this page starting from L-20 minutes at 10:45 a.m. PST (1:45 p.m. EST; 1845 UTC). At the request of our customer, live mission coverage will conclude after confirmation of payload fairing jettison, which is scheduled to occur about six minutes after liftoff."

Live HD Views of Earth from Space

You can watch live, high-definition views of Earth from the International Space Station thanks to NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing experiment (HDEV). This live video provides alternating views from four of the station's external cameras nearly 24/7, with the exception of regular and temporary dropouts that occur when the station switches its connection between different communications satellites. Watch it live in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV. 

From NASA:

"Behold, the Earth! See live views of Earth from the International Space Station coming to you by NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment.

"While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence through the different cameras. If you are seeing a black image, the Space Station is on the night side of the Earth. If you are seeing an image with text displayed, the communications are switching between satellites and camera feeds are temporarily unavailable. Between camera switches, a black & gray slate will also briefly appear.

"The experiment was activated on April 30, 2014 and is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the Earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit:

"Please note: The HDEV cycling of the cameras will sometimes be halted, causing the video to only show select camera feeds. This is handled by the HDEV team, and is only scheduled on a temporary basis. Nominal video will resume once the team has finished their scheduled event."

'ISS Live!' Tune in to the International Space Station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the "ISS Live" broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

From NASA:

"Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During 'loss of signal' periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

"Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below." 

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