Cape Canvas, Fla. – A classified spy satellite launch lit up the evening sky along Florida’s Space Coast on Friday, the first of two possible launches this weekend.
The NOL 101 mission, carrying a secret payload to the National Reconnaissance Office, was destroyed from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:32 pm, just minutes after the sun sank below the horizon. The Atlas V rocket climbed back into the sun’s rays, its exhaust pasts leaving a colorful arc through the twilight sky.
As always on classified missions, the launch contractor United Launch Alliance did not comment on the nature of the mission, except to confirm that the launch was a success. A spokesman for the US Space Force only described the satellite as “designed, built and operated by the NRO in support of overhead reconnaissance missions”.
The state’s east coast beaches were crowded with tourists to witness the sunset launch, but not nearly as crowded as it probably would be on Sunday when SpaceX plans to launch its second crew mission.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists are expected to ride four astronauts to go into space in a dragon capsule, scheduled to rise from Kennedy Space Center at 7:27 p.m.
The Crew-1 launch was delayed from Saturday evening due to the sluggish weather of tropical storm Etah, which soaked the state this week.