Watch a Delta IV rocket launch a secret satellite to space

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This afternoon, the United Launch Alliance is set to launch a classified spy satellite on one of its Delta IV rockets from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This will be ULA’s first launch of 2018, and the 27th launch for the US National Reconnaissance Office, which operates a host of satellites used for intelligence gathering and surveillance.

The mission — dubbed NROL-47 — is classified, so we don’t know much about the payload and what it’ll be used for once in orbit. What we do know is that the NROL-47 mission patch depicts a white knight brandishing a sword at a terrifying brown dragon. A Latin phrase on the patch promises that “evil will never prevail.” This latest mission patch is part of a long tradition of just plainly weird patches that the NRO issues for each classified launch. Previous patches have included giant, three-headed monsters grasping the Earth, as well as knights and witches that seem to come out of a fantasy trilogy.

Check out our mission patch for #NROL47! The patch design depicts a classic battle between good and evil and represents...

Posted by National Reconnaissance Office on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The NROL-47 launch was scrubbed twice: once on January 10th because of high ground winds, and again on January 11th because of an issue with a ground system valve. The Delta IV rocket is now scheduled to take off today at 4PM ET, with an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for now. ULA’s live stream of the launch is supposed to begin 20 minutes before takeoff, so check back here this afternoon.

Update January 12th, 10:30AM ET: This article was originally published on January 11th, but has been updated multiple times to reflect launch delays and a new launch date.

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