US Spy Satellite Launch Delayed Again

Atlas V Rolls to Launch Pad with NROL-52
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket moves to the launch pad carrying the classified NROL-52 spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office ahead of a planned launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Oct. 5, 2017. (Image credit: United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)

Editor's note: The launch of the NROL-52 spy satellite launch was delayed for the third day in a row today, Oct. 7, this time due to a telemetry transmitter problem on the satellite's Atlas V rocket. United Launch Alliance will replace and test the transmitter and select a new launch date once that work has concluded. Our preview story was originally posted Oct. 4, and updated Oct. 5 and 6 for the earlier weather-related launch delays.

The United States is launching another spy satellite on a secret mission early Saturday (Oct. 7) after a one-day delay, and you can watch the liftoff live.

The NROL-52 satellite is scheduled to launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:59 a.m. EDT (0759 GMT). You can watch it live here at beginning at 3:39 a.m. EDT (0739 GMT), courtesy of ULA. The mission was originally scheduled to lift off Thursday morning (Oct. 5), but unacceptable wins prevented launch, ULA representatives said. A second launch attempt early Friday was also prevented by foul weather.

You can also follow the action live directly at ULA's website:

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket topped by the NROL-52 spy satellite is rolled to the pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ahead of a planned Oct. 5, 2017, launch. (Image credit: United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts)

NROL-52 will be operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which manages the country's fleet of spy satellites. NRO missions tend to be classified, so it's unclear what exactly NROL-52 will be doing as it circles Earth.

Thursday's launch comes less than two weeks after ULA's previous NRO launch. On Sept. 24, an Atlas V lofted the NROL-42 satellite to orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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Mike Wall Senior Writer
Michael was a science writer for the Idaho National Laboratory and has been an intern at, The Salinas Californian newspaper, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He has also worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.