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Atlas launches spysats, places them in wrong orbit
Posted: Fri, Jun 15, 2007, 9:43 PM ET (0143 GMT)
Atlas 5 launch of MRO (ILS) An Atlas 5 lifted off Friday morning carrying two classified satellites, but apparently placed the spacecraft in the wrong orbit. The Atlas 5 401 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:12 am EDT (1512 GMT) carrying a classified payload officially only known as NROL-30. According to initial reports the launch went well and the payload, believed to be two naval reconnaissance satellites, separated from the Centaur upper stage as planned. However, late Friday the Air Force announced that there had been "a technical anomaly", which Aviation Week reported to be a premature shutdown of the Centaur. That problem meant that the two satellites were placed in the wrong orbit, but are otherwise functioning well and may be able to boost themselves into their correct orbit using their onboard thrusters. The cause of the problem has yet to be determined.
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