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A towering United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket believed to be carrying a National Reconnaissance Office electronic eavesdropping satellite climbed away from Cape Canaveral Saturday, putting on a spectacular weekend show as it streaked toward space on a blacked-out mission. Running two days late because of stormy weather, the heavy-lift Delta 4 thundered to life with a brilliant rush of fiery exhaust at 1:51 p.m. EDT (GMT-4) as its three Common Booster Core engines ignited and throttled up to full power. An instant later, generating a combined 2.1 million pounds of thrust, the huge rocket began climbing away from complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was only the ninth launch of a Delta 4-Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the U.S. inventory, and the first since December 2014.
No details about the rocket's payload were released by the Air Force or the National Reconnaissance Office. But Ted Molzcan, a respected amateur satellite analyst who coordinates worldwide observations of military and civilian spacecraft, believes it likely was a Mentor signals intelligence satellite equipped with a huge, unfolding mesh antenna that can pull in all manner of electronic data and communications. "If the NRO is the customer and it's a Delta 4-Heavy out of Florida, then all of the precedents have been heavy signals intelligence-type satellites," Molczan told CBS News. "One of the common code names that people use that, I guess, leaked out some years ago is Mentor. Sometimes it's also called Advanced Orion." But that's only an educated guess, he said. "Until you see where it actually goes and what it does, you can't totally rule out the possibility that it'll be something different," he said. "But I think it's a pretty good bet that's what it is."
originally posted by: Bigburgh
a reply to: TheBulk
Lol.... no that won't set off the "Black Knight Satellite" conspiracy 😊
Here's a link to the NROL-37 Recon satellite. Which is supposed to be the payload on the launch.
Multiple video links. But not much on what the NROL-37 Is or does.
The United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket fired away from Cape Canaveral at 1:51 p.m. EDT today to deploy a covert surveillance satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
Monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Tracking international terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal organizations
Developing highly accurate military targeting data and bomb damage assessments
Supporting international peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations
Assessing the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and fires.