Secret In The Sky

Round and round the Earth it goes, who or what it’s spying on very few people know.

Delta 4 rocket successfully lofts surveillance satellite

A Delta 4 rocket made a thunderous departure from California on Tuesday afternoon, only to slip into a news blackout minutes later while it climbed higher and faster to deploy a classified spy satellite, a success-defining milestone that was confirmed by hobbyist observers.

The United Launch Alliance-made booster roared away from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12:57 p.m. local (7:12:57 p.m. EDT; 2312:57 GMT) on a southwesterly course to reach a retrograde orbit inclined 123 degrees relative to the equator.

. . .

The hush-hush nature for the rest of flight is all part of launching covert payloads for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency that operates the country’s fleet of spy satellites. The NRO does not disclose the purpose of its spacecraft being sent up on each launch, saying only that the flight was called the NROL-25 mission.

See also:
Rocket Launches Secret Spy Satellite for US Military
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
US launches new spy satellite NROL-25
Delta 4 lifts off
Spy satellite-carrying rocket blasts off
U.S. rocket carrying classified payload launches
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Rocket
Rocket carrying classified payload launches from California’s central coast
Rocket launch includes key parts from Utah’s ATK sites
List of NRO Launches
National Reconnaissance OfficeNational Reconnaissance Office

According to the listed launch designation, NROL-25 is a radar imaging satellite operating in a retrograde low Earth orbit.

/if I had to guess what it’s looking at, I’d guess Iran

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It Is Heavy And Obama Can’t Cancel It

Obama may have killed the Constellation program, but he can’t stop SpaceX.

Huge Private Rocket Could Send Astronauts to the Moon or Mars

A massive new private rocket envisioned by the commercial spaceflight company SpaceX could do more than just ferry big satellites and spacecraft into orbit. It could even help return astronauts to the moon, the rocket’s builder says.

SpaceX announced plans to build the huge rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, yesterday (April 5). To make the new booster, SpaceX will upgrade its Falcon 9 rockets with twin strap-on boosters and other systems to make them capable of launching larger payloads into space than any other rocket operating today.

But the Falcon Heavy’s increased power could also be put toward traveling beyond low-Earth orbit and out into the solar system, said SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk during a Tuesday press conference.

See also:
SpaceX Unveils Plans for Falcon Heavy, World’s Largest Rocket
SpaceX announces Falcon Heavy: a low-cost, heavy-lifting, 22-story rocket
SpaceX unveils plans for Falcon heavy lift rocket
Space privateers to launch biggest rocket since 70s
SpaceX preps world’s largest rocket. It’s low cost, too
The Tech Behind the New SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX’s ‘Falcon Heavy’ Most Powerful Private Rocket Ever
SpaceX shoots for ‘next big thing’
SpaceX unveils heavy launcher
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
SpaceX
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation – Falcon Heavy
Falcon Heavy

If the Falcon Heavy becomes operational and performs as expected, this rocket will be able to lift a heavier payload into space than any other rocket ever built, other than the Saturn V behemoth.

/Wernher von Braun would be proud

Russian Satellites Go For A Swim

Whoops, that’s a pretty expensive program error.

Program error caused Russian Glonass satellite loss – source

A program error caused a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket to deviate from its course and lose a booster carrying three Glonass-M satellites, a source in the Russian space industry said on Monday.

Sunday’s launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket was supposed to deliver satellites for the completion of Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation system.

However, the rocket, which blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, deviated from its course by 8 degrees, resulting in the loss of the DM-3 booster with the satellites. According to unofficial reports, the spacecraft fell into the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of Hawaii.

“According to preliminary information, there were no technical problems with the Proton itself during lift-off. A range of specialists consider that program errors in Proton’s onboard computer led to the engines failing to function as normal, giving the rocket an extra boost and taking it into the wrong orbit,” the source said.

See also:
Crash Hurts Russia Satellite Challenge to U.S. GPS
Russia’s $2 billion project to rival America’s GPS suffers setback
Satellite failure leaves Russia without Glonass network
Russia begins investigation into satellite launch failure (video)
Russian launch fails to put three nav satellites in orbit
Rocket booster behind Russia’s space launch failure
Computer crashed Russian satellites
Russian satellites crash after failed launch
Reports: Russian satellites fall into Pacific
Glonass Satellites Crash Into Pacific
Proton-M carrier rocket loses booster with three Glonass-M satellites

Boy, I’d sure hate to be one of the people responsible for that “program error”.

/I hear Siberia is not so nice this time of year