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03:19 PM, March 1, 2017
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US to Launch Spy Satellite Today
US spy satellite launched into orbit atop rocket in operation. (Image only for representation)

The United Launch Alliance is readying to send one of its Atlas V rockets to space to launch a classified reconnaissance satellite.

The satellite is designed and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which is part of the US intelligence program.

The NRO payload has been scheduled for liftoff at 9:50 a.m. local time (1750 GMT) on Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite will be the fifth NRO payload launched by a Atlas V in the US state of California, US department of defense announced Tuesday.

"We are postured for another successful Atlas launch," US Air Force 30th Space Wing Commander Colonel Christopher Moss.

Details of the payload are classified but the NRO is the military agency responsible for US spy satellites.

The United States has used the Atlas two-stage rocket for more than four decades. The first stage of the latest model, the Atlas V, is powered by a Russian-made RD 180 engine.

Atlas V is an active expendable launch system in the Atlas rocket family. Atlas V was formerly operated by Lockheed Martin, and is now operated by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance (ULA).

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