At 1140 GMT on 10 February 2016, the mysterious military payload NRO L-45 was launched into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office by a Delta IVM +5,2 rocket flying from the Vandenberg launch site in California. The launch, performed under the control of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), was carrying what is thought to be the fourth Boeing-built “Topaz” class radar reconnaissance satellite launched into orbit. These radar satellites are launched into an unusual retrograde orbit going against the direction of Earth’s spin which thus requires more than usual energy to launch them. The 1,100 km circular orbit has an inclination of 123 degrees relative to the equatorial plane.
NRO L-45 is punched into a retrograde orbit by Delta IV
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