The rocket is scheduled to blast-off at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. local time, from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The space booster carried a top-secret spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office for a mission dubbed NROL-47. "This will be the first of two launches scheduled for NRO in 2018".
The NROL-47 mission logo.
The launch will be streamed live. This latest mission patch is part of a long tradition of just plainly weird patches that the NRO issues for each classified launch. The agency was formed in 1961 and was declassified to the public in 1992.
Due to the payload's classified nature, officials have remained mum about its goal, cost and status. NROL-47 will join the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) satellite constellation, which flies under the code name Topaz.
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Thursday morning's weather report from the 30th Space Wing showed an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions, a considerable improvement over the previous day's 40 percent. Orbital ATK produced the solid rocket motors at its facilities in Magna and Clearfield, Utah, where it has manufactured GEM-60s for the Delta IV launch vehicle since the initial flight in 2002.
Founded in 2006, ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.
There are three variants of Delta IV M+ configuration. They burned for about 90 seconds and provided more than 560,000 pounds of thrust.
"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".
The same policy was in place last Sunday when SpaceX launched a classified satellite known as Zuma atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.