Mobile gantry rolled back to reveal Delta 4 rocket at Vandenberg

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon

The NROL-47 mission logo. What we do know is that the NROL-47 mission patch depicts a white knight brandishing a sword at a terrifying brown dragon.

The NRO mission patch sports Latin words that translated into "Evil will never prevail", a ULA representative said. Previous patches have included giant, three-headed monsters grasping the Earth, as well as knights and witches that seem to come out of a fantasy trilogy. The launch was then delayed by about an hour due to a ground system helium issue.

United Launch Alliance's CEO and President, Tory Bruno expressed the excitement of seeing the final planned launch of a Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) soar through California's skies when he tweeted: "Delta is ripping the sky at incredible speed".

Update January 11th 12:55PM ET: The article has been updated to reflect launch delays.

The launch will be streamed live. Allen Varghese, 4th Space Launch Squadron director of operations. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

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

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday afternoon

Colonel Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, said: "We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch".

The blastoff and initial phases of the rocket's flight were a success. After staging, an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 granted some 24,750 pounds of thrust, sending the Delta IV's upper stage to orbit.

"We are proud to provide this national defence capability and every Team V member involved has tirelessly worked to ensure the launch is safe and successful". According to the organization's website, "together with other Defense Department satellites, the NRO systems play a crucial role in providing global communications, precision navigation, early warning of missile launches and potential military aggression, signals intelligence, and near real-time imagery to USA forces to support the war on terrorism and other continuing operations".

Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott.

Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

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