First off, many apologies for the lack of posts recently; I went to an airshow over the weekend, came home to piles of work, and then got sick. But I’m back in top form now! And to kick the blog back off, here’s the launch of NROL-61 aboard Atlas V earlier today, marking the 135th consecutive successful Atlas flight. NROL-61 is a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. Nevertheless, ULA was able to stream excellent footage including rocketcam imagery up to the point of payload fairing jettison and upper stage ignition, the traditional point for ending broadcast of classified launches. (Amateur satellite hunters will find the payload in orbit soon enough, but the NRO doesn’t like to make it too easy.)
The NRO did release the mission patch, which for today’s flight features a cheerful lizard mascot named Spike clinging to the Atlas V, whose vapor trail originates in Florida.