Delta II launching NRO L-21

Delta II launching NRO L-21

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This image is part of the sequence Space: Delta II rocket launch in 2006

Credit: STONECYPHER, U.S. AIR FORCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Delta II launching NRO L-21. The Delta II 7920-10C rocket launched the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) L-21 satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA, on 14th December 2006. The spy satellite used hydrazine, a hazardous chemical, as fuel to propel itself into low Earth orbit. On 14th January 2008, Pentagon officials announced that if the satellite was to reenter Earth's atmosphere fully intact, there could be a potentially deadly leak of toxic gas from its fuel tank. Because of this risk, they plan to target a missile to the satellite in order to destroy it while safely in space. Others, however, believe that this action may be to prevent the classified material held by the satellite from being open to abuse.

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