US National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched another top secret satellite into space today after previously being grounded due to poor weather conditions.
The top secret payload consisted of the Satellite NROL-37 which was launched into space last Saturday aboard the world’s most powerful rocket– the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy Rocket. Although the contents of its payload remain top secret, ULA decided to release live footage and launch schedules of all of its rockets to prevent explaining themselves later to civilians- costing much more money. Instead, they announced the rocket previous to launch- minus the payload contents and purpose, besides the “national security” claim- and allowed the world to watch the launch via live stream. The launch schedule can be found on their website, including the live feed launches. Of course, there will still be no information regarding the purpose or any contents aboard many of their missions.
ULA claims the “mission will be launched for the National Reconnaissance Office in support of national defense”, leaving spectators curious as to what radical experimental satellites loom overhead. This successful launch marks the 32nd Delta IV Heavy to launch since the program gained traction in 2002, making it the 107th launch since the organization was founded in 2006.
The delta rocket first broke ground in the 1950’s where the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles were tested for the U.S Air Force, later adapting the technology into spacecraft. The Thor- a single-stage, liquid-fueled rocket, was re-outfitted to become the original Delta Launch vehicle, eventually evolving into the Delta II. The Delta IV was built in conjunction with U.S. Air Force EELV program and is currently the most advanced rocket in the Delta series, able to carry “virtually any size medium-to-heavy class payload to space”, claims ULA.
Unfortunately to all those not involved, the top secret mission will never be disclosed to the public- forever leaving the thirst to know the technologies the government is capable of, and what fun exciting projects the rest of us engineers are missing out on.
Delta IV Rocket [Image Source: Wikimedia]