Watch A Spy Satellite Launch On A Really Big Rocket

Currently scheduled for Saturday at 1:51pm Eastern

Update 10:35 AM, June 10th: The launch is now scheduled for Saturday.

https://twitter.com/ulalaunch/status/741028680839876608//

Update 3:55 PM The weather conditions for the launch have not improved. United Launch Alliance tweeted:

https://twitter.com/ulalaunch/status/740993921367478272//

Original story continues below.

At 2:55 PM Eastern Time today, an American rocket will hurl a mysterious something into space on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office. The something is a “national security payload,” so probably a satellite. The launch, slated for takeoff on United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket, was delayed from 1:59 PM to 2:55 PM on account of weather at Cape Canaveral.

This is the NRO’s mission patch for the launch:

https://twitter.com/NatReconOfc/status/740596838064001024//

Why is there a Crusader-like dude on there? The NRO’s Facebook page explains: “The #NROL37 mission patch depicts a knight, a symbol of courage with a chivalrous code of conduct representing bravery, training, and service to others. The knight stands in front of the U.S. flag in a defensive posture as to protect at all cost. The eagle on the chest is a symbol of both freedom and the United States of America. The sword is a message of tenacious, fierce focus with the claws representing extreme reach with global coverage.”

The United Launch Alliance tweeted out a picture of the rocket launching in front of the knight on horseback. Words can’t quite capture the absurdity:

https://twitter.com/ulalaunch/status/740876660552044544//

This is the good and not at all weird or ominous symbol associated with what is likely a surveillance satellite.

The launch will start streaming at 2:45 PM Eastern, and the weather is expected to clear.

[via Gizmodo]

Kelsey D. Atherton
Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Atherton is a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.