NROL-61 (Atlas V)
28 July 2016
Space Launch Complex 41
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches the NROL-61 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at 8:37 a.m. from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The NRO came up with a lizard named Spike riding the rocket to represent the secret payload heading into orbit.
The day started out with a beautiful sunrise.
At left in this wide angle view is Launch Complex 39A being leased by SpaceX and undergoing modifications to support launching different variations of their Falcon 9 rocket. The large building to the right of the pad is the new SpaceX rocket hanger.
The Atlas V vents from its liquid oxygen tank. The rocket itself stands approximately 20 stories tall.
Jettisoning the solid rocket boosters.
The exhaust plume expands in the thin atmosphere at high altitude.
The exhaust cloud drifts away from SLC-41.
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