Rocket with secret payload launches from Calif.

Apr 04, 2012

(AP) -- A rocket carrying a top-secret payload blasted off Tuesday from the California coast.

The lifted off at 4:12 p.m. from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

"We've just seen the successful liftoff" of the rocket, launch commentator Don Spencer said in a webcast.

Since the launch involved a classified cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office, no details were immediately available about whether it was boosted to its intended orbit.

The reconnaissance office, which oversees the nation's constellation of spy satellites, has kept mum about the purpose of the mission and directed United Launch Alliance to cut off the live broadcast three minutes after liftoff.

think the rocket carried a satellite capable of seeing at night and through . In recent years, the United States has worked to phase out its fleet of older, heavier radar reconnaissance satellites with smaller but equally capable ones, said Charles Vick, a space policy analyst with the Globalsecurity.org think tank.

Such radar satellites would be able to zero in on countries of interest and see details that typical Earth satellites can't, experts said.

Tuesday's launch involved reconfiguring the rocket to add on two strap-on boosters to provide more thrust. The protective nose cone enclosing the payload also had to be made larger.

ULA, the joint venture of builders Corp. and Boeing Co., said it was the first time the Delta IV had been launched this way.

The launch was delayed nearly a week as engineers worked to fix an issue with the upper stage engine.

The next launch out of Vandenberg will be a flight test of the Minuteman III on April 10.

Explore further: Xi urges China to build up joint space and air power

4 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rocket launches from California coast

Apr 15, 2011

A rocket carrying a national security payload has been successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.

Delta IV heavy blasts off from California

Jan 21, 2011

In an impressive show of rocket power, a United Space Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launched on Thursday afternoon with a classified spy satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Falcon Heavy Rocket gets unveiled by SpaceX (Update)

Apr 05, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Private spaceflight company, SpaceX, unveiled their massive 22 story big Falcon Heavy rocket capable of carrying a cargo capacity of 117,000 pounds. The 27-enginge Falcon Heavy is aimed to ...

Recommended for you

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

19 hours ago

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to ...

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of a Saturn moon

20 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known ...

Meteorite studies suggest hidden water on Mars

20 hours ago

Geochemical calculations by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology to determine how the water content of Mars has changed over the past 4.5 billion years suggest as yet unidentified reservoirs of water ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of a Saturn moon

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known ...

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.