Stupendous ‘Spysat Sunrise’ at the Cape

Image caption: ‘Spysat Sunrise’ and Delta 4 Heavy booster at Cape Canaveral, Florida prior to successful June 29, 2012 blastoff from Pad 37 at 9:15 a.m. EDT. Credit: Ken Kremer

Some lucky Florida Space Coast spectators were unexpectedly treated to a glorious “Spysat Sunrise” when the June 29 liftoff of the powerful Delta 4 Heavy booster lofting a super secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was postponed several hours from its originally scheduled predawn launch time.

The sight of the orange and white triple barreled Delta booster and the multi hued sunrise show lasting several minutes was gorgeous beyond compare.

Image caption: ‘Spysat Sunrise’ and Delta 4 Heavy booster at Cape Canaveral, Florida prior to successful June 29, 2012 blastoff from Pad 37 at 9:15 a.m. EDT. Credit: Ken Kremer

As a result of the sudden, last minute launch time postponement amidst blistering Florida heat in the middle of mosquito infested waters, some folks got a super “consolation prize” – a magnificent sunrise behind the Delta 4 Heavy rocket launch pad at Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

That is for those who were fortunate enough to be unwittingly watching from exactly the right spot at the right time. The photos were shot from about 3 miles away on the NASA Causeway.

Image caption: An upgraded Delta 4 Heavy rocket and super secret spy satellite roar off Pad 37 on June 29, 2012 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer

The goal of the mission was to deliver the NROL-15 satellite to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to conduct unspecified intelligence gathering operations for US military forces located around the globe.

Read more about the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy Spy satellite launch in my mission related articles starting here as well as the prior week’s June 20 NROL-38 NRO spysat launch – here and here.

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC,, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Recent Posts

Finally! Astronomers are Starting to See the First Galaxies Coming Together With JWST

One of the James Webb Space Telescope’s principal science goals is to observe the epoch…

2 hours ago

Gaia is Now Finding Planets. Could it Find Another Earth?

The ESA launched Gaia in 2013 with one overarching goal: to map more than one…

4 hours ago

Why Build Megastructures? Just Move Planets Around to Make Habitable Worlds

A new study recommends we stop looking for megastructures and start searching for advanced civilizations…

5 hours ago

The Darkest Parts of the Moon are Revealed with NASA’s New Camera

While the surface of the Moon has been mapped in incredible detail over the last…

9 hours ago

Did the Moon’s Water Come from Earth?

A recent study published in Nature Astronomy examines how processes within the Earth’s magnetic field…

22 hours ago

The OSIRIS-REx Capsule Has Landed! Asteroid Samples Returned!

The samples obtained by NASA's OSIRIS-REx of the asteroid Bennu landed this morning and will…

1 day ago