Spy satellite to be launched out of Cape Canaveral for DoD missionNews
August 26, 2020
ORLANDO, Fla. According to NASA officials, one of the most powerful rockets in service is scheduled to carry a classified spy satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) aloft from Florida before dawn Thursday.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) plans to send the satellite into space at 2:12 a.m. EDT aboard the company's Delta IV Heavy, a triple-engine launcher that creates a collective 2.2 million pounds of thrust. That compares to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, the most powerful of today's rockets, with 3.4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The mission, dubbed NROL-44, will be the 12th launch of a Delta IV Heavy, first used in 2004, officials claim.
The National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the launch, is part of the DoD. According to its mission statement, it is responsible for developing, launching, and operating America's reconnaissance satellites, along with data-processing facilities.
That data is used by the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to produce photos, maps, reports, and other tools for the president, Congress, national policymakers, warfighters, and others.