An Atlas V vehicle, flying in its 401 configuration, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the NRO L-79 mission to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at 1749 GMT on 1 March. The flight marks the 70th Atlas V orbital launch and the 14th flown for the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office). The launch was controlled by the United Launch Alliance (ULA).
The NRO L-79 payload, although nominally classified, is believed to be NOSS (Naval Ocean Surveillance System) mission, which usually consists of two identical satellites. NOSS satellites are used to locate and track ships at sea by detecting their electromagnetic emissions. The mission patch for the NRO L-79 flight depicts Ancient Greek God Athena, who represents wisdom and war. She is surrounded by the latin phrase “Victoriam per intelligentiam” – Victory through Intelligence.