The US state of California hosted the launch of a heavy Delta 4 booster with a secret satellite that will be used in the interests of the US National Intelligence Agency (NRU).
The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:03 US Pacific Coast time (22:03 Moscow time). Launching the secret spacecraft into orbit was entrusted to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture aviation giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, ITAR-TASS reports.
The satellite was placed in a special capsule at the top of the rocket. In accordance with the requirements of the Pentagon, six minutes after launch, further tracking of the flight by third-party observers was discontinued.
As reported by the specialized site Spaceflightnow.com, immediately after the launch, which monitored the movement of the rocket to a predetermined orbit, the launch proceeded normally.
Heavy Delta 4 has three engines and is capable of delivering a payload of up to 23 tons into orbit. The carriers of this class are the heaviest and largest (71,6 m in length) of the US Army standing in service.
The Delta 4 rocket was used for the eighth time in the interests of the NRU. This launch was the second, carried out with the US Pacific Coast. The first start took place in January 2011.
The activity of the NRU, which controls the US intelligence satellites and provides the CIA and the Pentagon with relevant information, is classified. Management keeps silence regarding the specific tasks of this flight.
The cost of this project is also classified. According to the newspaper The Los Angeles Times, a satellite was put into orbit, capable of taking pictures (of objects on Earth) of such high resolution that it would be possible to distinguish car models from them. The cost of the device, according to the publication, is 1 billion dollars.