Atlas V carrying a Defense Department satellite roars from pad LC-41.
There are so many rocket launches around the world these days that I primarily like to cover the manned mission variety. But some launches just catch my eye, like this one. Atlas and ULA just keep a busy pace with successful satellite launches from Cape Canaveral. This one lifts off on a beautiful Thursday into the Florida sky, the 64th launch of the Atlas V rocket and the 135th of the Atlas program.
Another view of the launch. On board is the NROL-61 spy satellite.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) maintains the supervision of our country's fleet of satellites that monitor security situations around the world, especially keeping an eye on those countries that are hostile to America. For the United Launch Alliance, the company that manages many of the satellite launches (and previously, shuttle launches), this flight was the 23rd launch for the NRO. The NRO has also used Delta rockets for some of its missions.
You can read more about this satellite at NASASpaceflight.com at: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/07/atlas-v-launch-nrol-61-reconnaissance-satellite/
See more great launch photos at SpaceFlight Now: http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/07/28/photos-more-shots-of-thursdays-atlas-5-rocket-launch/