Delta 4-Heavy roars into space with NRO L-26
1/17/09 ~ 9:47pm

Homepage       Launch Photos

A United Launch Alliance / Boeing Delta 4-Heavy rocket, the largest rocket by height since the Saturn V and N1 of the moon race era, roared into space January 17 as it lofted a classified spy satellite, believed to be worth some $2 billion, for the National Reconnaissnace Office. Liftoff of the 24-story skyscraper-size booster took place at 9:47pm EST atop its three RS-68 engines that total over 1.9 million pounds of thrust.

Mobile Service Tower rollback       On the pad January 17

<--- Delta 4-Heavy DSP-23 (Heavy night debut)          GOES-O --->
From a viewing area 5.5 miles away:
The three RS-68 hydrogen engines each provide over 650,000 lbs of thrust:
A contrail forms in the cold mid-to-upper atmosphere as the vehicle heads downrange over the Atlantic:
An "ok" streak shot marred by dew and some jolts to the tripod: