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An unmanned Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifted off the pad at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:03 p.m. ET (11:03 p.m. PT) Wednesday, carrying a classified payload into a polar orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
It's unclear what intelligence the spacecraft, which is known as NROL-65, will collect as it zips around our planet. Because of the clandestine nature of the mission, it entered a planned media blackout about seven minutes after liftoff.
The rocket carried a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees the nation's constellation of intelligence-gathering satellites.
The KH-11 series of reconnaissance satellites, also known by their Byeman code names Kennen (the often reported "Kennan" is likely a misspelling) and Crystal (since 1982), are the first American spy satellites to utilize electro-optical digital imaging, and provide a real-time optical observation capability. They replaced the earlier film-return type satellites of the KH-8 Gambit-3 and KH-9 Hexagon series. The satellites are believed to use a 2.4 m diameter prime mirror, which would proved a theoretical ground resolution of 15 cm. Operational resolution would be worse due to effects of the atmosphere. Reportedly some ELINT equipment is also carried. Prime contractor for the KH-11 satellites is Lockeed (now Lockheed Martin). The KH-11 series transmit their data via relay satellites called Satellite Data System (SDS-1, SDS-2, SDS-3), which operate in Molniya orbits and geostationary orbits. The KH-11 satellites were built in several blocks, each introducing improvements. The optical system remained probably mostly unchanged, while sensors and avionics have been improved. With the advent of the more powerful Titan-4 launch vehicle, the amount of fuel has likely been increased for a longer lifetime.
reply to post by Lurker1
I remember watching the first Delta IV Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral. Boy did that thing cause a rumble.
Originally posted by wrabbit2000
Well, they claim 15cm possible in public....or that's the running statement I've seen too, anyway.
They can not only read your newspaper's headlines if it's on a flat surface outside, but this lets them watch YOU read your newspaper in real time, as you turn each page.
Oh.. I feel SO much safer now. Indeed. Just what a broke nation needed. Super-Duper Bionic Eyes.
Wasn't the public in the process of pointing out how we're really having second thoughts about this whole support for Big Brother thing?? This is kinda like the atomic test coming DURING the Cuban Missile Crisis. (The Dominic test series was in full swing. ) So incredibly incompetent to have done by accident of timing, it HAD to be deliberate by all involved.
So I guess this is how the Intelligence Community gives us the finger with fire coming out the bottom for emphasis.