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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The World’s Largest Spy Is Listening

Shhh, it’s a secret.

Spying from Space: U.S. Launches World’s Largest Satellite

The United States has just launched the largest satellite ever to orbit earth; while its exact purpose is secret, we know it’s not going to be monitoring the weather.

Its mission will be to gather intelligence for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The satellite, dubbed NROL-32, was sent into orbit yesterday by a Delta 4 Heavy rocket —the largest unmanned rocket with the most powerful liquid-fueled booster. U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director Bruce Carlson said the NROL-32 would be “the largest satellite in the world.”

All this superlative hugeness isn’t likely just a result of Americans’ obsession with size; in fact, the NRO launches almost as many small vehicles into space as it does large ones. More to the point, however, NROL-32 has a very important job: replacing a slew of Cold War-era satellites currently in orbit past their expiration dates.

Carlson gave an address (links to a PDF that’s a good read on the bureaucracy of space) last month in which he stated that the agency had adopted a new charter and “a remarkably aggressive launch campaign” to go along with it.

See also:
U.S. Launches Largest Surveillance Satellite
U.S. Launches Largest-Ever Spy Satellite: Report
World’s Largest Satellite Launched On Sunday
Classified spy satellite launched from Fla.
Delta IV Blasts Off with NRO Satellite
Spy satellite called world’s largest
‘Eavesdropper’ satellite rides huge rocket from Florida
Air Force Launches Massive, Secret Spy Satellite
US launches giant eavesdropping satellite
“National Reconnaissance Office Update”
National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office

My guess is that this is a very large communications vacuum cleaner and there’s a very good chance and that no electronic communication on the planet is safe from interception.

/of course, theoretically, the NRO isn’t allowed to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, but can the satellite tell the difference?