U.S. launches spy satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- Roaring into orbit, an Atlas 2AS rocket illuminated the night sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday, carrying with it a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, an agency that maintains spy satellites for the United States.
As is customary for the NRO, no details were released about the satellite, but experts told Reuters news agency that the type of rocket being used for launch and the location of the launch pad indicated it was a relay satellite rather than one used to collect imagery.
The rocket was launched by International Launch Services -- a joint venture of U.S.-based Lockheed Martin and Russian companies Khrunichev and Energia.
The rocket lifted off at 10:32 p.m. EDT. According to a press release on the ILS Web site, the satellite separated from the rocket 29 minutes later.
"ILS is honored to have a role in enhancing our nation's security by launching this NRO payload," said ILS president Mark Albrecht in a statement. "Every one of these missions is vitally important for national defense."
This was the third satellite launched for NRO in recent weeks. ILS launched a satellite for the NRO on September 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Titan IV rocket was launched on October 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
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