Payload hoisted atop Atlas for NROL-36


Posted: July 26, 2012

A classified satellite payload already encapsulated in a four-meter-diameter nose cone is delivered to Space Launch Complex 3-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base and hoisted into the pad's mobile gantry for attachment atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The bullet-shaped shroud protects the satellite during ascent through Earth's atmosphere and then gets jettisoned to uncover the craft after the threshold the space is reached.

The operation occurred July 17 in preparation for blastoff August 2. The payload is known only as NROL-36 for the National Reconnaissance Office.

See our Mission Status Center for the latest news on the launch.

Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

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