The United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully employed its Atlas V launch vehicle to send the mystery payload NRO L-61 for the US National Reconnaissance Office into orbit. The launch took place at 1237 GMT on 28 July 2016. The rocket was in the Atlas V 421 configuration, one of the more rarely used rockets in the family for NRO missions, and took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The spacecraft is believed to have been launched into a geosynchronous transfer orbit on its way to an operational position geostationary or geosynchronous orbit. This gives a clue as to the mission being either related to communications, relay or signals monitoring. Analysts suspect that it is a forth generation data relay satellite of the Quasar series.

 

Mission emblem image for NRO L-61 mission shows a lizard. Courtesy: ULA

Mission emblem image for NRO L-61 mission shows a lizard. Courtesy: ULA