Biggest U.S. rocket blasts off with spy satellite

LOS ANGELES Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:09pm EDT

1 of 7. An unmanned Delta 4 Heavy rocket, the largest booster in in the U.S. fleet, lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California August 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gene Blevins

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An unmanned Delta 4-Heavy rocket, the largest in the U.S. fleet, blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday to put a classified spy satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office, officials said Wednesday.

The 23-story-tall rocket lifted off at 11:03 a.m. local time/1803 GMT from a launch pad originally built for, but never used by, NASA's now-retired space shuttles.

No details about the rocket's spy-satellite payload were released.

With three main booster-rocket cores, the Delta 4-Heavy is capable of putting a satellite the size of school bus into an orbit around Earth's poles.

Wednesday's launch was the second Delta 4-Heavy to fly from California. The rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., also has flown five times from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"We are truly honored to deliver this critical asset to orbit," United Launch Alliance vice president Jim Sponnick said in a statement, praising the groups involved in the launch effort.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz from Cape Canaveral, Florida; Editing by Steve Gorman and Ken Wills)

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Comments (4)
gregbrew56 wrote:
A bus-sized satellite can take some pretty detailed photos, and a polar orbit put’s it over every spot on the surface of the Earth relatively often.

Look up and say “Cheese!”

Aug 28, 2013 9:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mahan99 wrote:
More spying on every citizen coming to a home near you! Between all these “secrete” satellites, the huge storage site in Utah to store every email and phone, and the secret FISA court that no one knows anything about….its hard to tell we are in the Land of Free and Home of the Brave. Its more like we are living in George Orwell’s world! Good job Obama…you are a change from Bush…he did all manners of wrong illegally while Obama is doing much more “legally” and in institutional fashion.

Aug 28, 2013 9:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mahan99 wrote:
More spying on every citizen coming to a home near you! Between all these “secrete” satellites, the huge storage site in Utah to store every email and phone, and the secret FISA court that no one knows anything about….its hard to tell we are in the Land of Free and Home of the Brave. Its more like we are living in George Orwell’s world! Good job Obama…you are a change from Bush…he did all manners of wrong illegally while Obama is doing much more “legally” and in institutional fashion.

Aug 28, 2013 9:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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