Atlas 5 rocket launches with secret reconnaisance satellite

May 22, 2014 4:40 PM

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Atlas 5 rocket launches with secret reconnaisance satellite

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket powered by a Russian first-stage engine -- the focus of renewed debate over U.S. reliance on Russian space technology -- roared to life and climbed away through a cloudless sky Thursday, kicking off a classified mission to boost a National Reconnaissance Office satellite into orbit.

Gulping liquid oxygen and refined kerosene rocket fuel, the Russian-built RD-180 engine ignited at 9:09 a.m. EDT (GMT-4), throttled up to full power and boosted the 20-story rocket away from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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