Video: Atlas V races into clear skies with secret National Defence Payload

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, embarking on a secret U.S. government mission to replenish the country’s spy satellite fleet.

Topped by a classified National Reconnaissance Office Payload, Atlas V departed Florida’s Space Coast to the south east, flying into a pre-arranged News Blackout five minutes after launch to allow NROL-61 to continue climbing into a classified orbit without the public watching.

>>Read our Launch Recap