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back to article Massive US rocket sends top-secret cargo into space

The US intelligence services have launched a large secret payload into space using one of the most powerful rockets currently available, a mighty Delta IV Heavy, which took off for the first time from the west coast last night. Detail of Delta IV Heavy NROL-32 awaiting launch from Vandenberg AFB SLC-6. Credit: ULA Soon to be …

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Black Helicopters

possible link?

Not having the knowledge of these things, any chance the two stories are connected?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/20/unavailabe_gps_warning/

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WTF?

Earth spins left.

"Launches from the west coast are desirable from a security point of view as the planet rotates beneath the departing spacecraft, ensuring that it is over the ocean..."

Launches from the *east* coast of the USA head out over the Atlantic. Virtually all satellites in LEO move left to right (heading towards the east). From Vanderberg, CA (on the left coast), the mighty Pacific would be in the rear view mirror from the outset. They should launch from Jarvis Island (western Pacific) for maximum ocean immediately after launch.

Excuse me in advance if I've missed some critical detail.

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Anonymous Coward

Security

I'd add to your post by suggesting launches from the West coast would fall over US soil if something went wrong, making it easier to retrieve the secret payload (or whatever remains of it).

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Black Helicopters

What part of...

...'polar orbit' don't you understand?

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polar orbit

The launches from Vandenberg were intended to be into polar orbit and are typically spy satellites, as the Earth rotates underneath the orbiting satellite - the idea being a spy satellite in such an orbit would eventually cover the entire Earth's surface.

A polar orbit launch would end up over the Pacific Ocean, as the launch vehicle heads north/south while the earth continues to rotate underneath. This is the reason the shuttle needed such large wings - in case it to abort from a Californian launch, it would need cross-range ability to get back to an American runway to land. Less commercially sensitive launches from Florida were less of an issue, as the shuttle would be intended to land in Europe.

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Stop

earth spins what?

it is now proved that earth orbits the sun, so let's use it as our reference...

if the sun rises first in europe and then in the US, that means that earth is rotating towards east and, as so, anything that goes up say, in Florida, after awhile will be on top of California...

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Black Helicopters

It's all about where it's going....

Launches from Vandenburgh are polar-orbit satellites.

The reason: as the rocket heads south, there's nobody underneath it to lodge a complaint if it flames out and drops back to earth. Check out a map.

Vandenburgh sits out on a promentory, there's nothing south of it until you hit Antarctica.

Try that on a map looking at Florida. Quite a few Caribean and S.A. folks to get upset if you don't make orbit.

Why polar orbit? Things in that orbit cover the entire globe, as it spins beneath the satellite. This is the preferred orbit for 'spy' sattelites among other things.

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Pint

I'm waiting for Wikileaks ...

to publish the full satellite specifications as soon as they have finished with the Bank of America release.

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Pirate

why wait?

Get them off bittorrent right now. And don't be a leach.

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Thumb Down

More money wasted

Why does the US need to waste money on these satellites when it already has the high quality intelligence provided by its diplomatic force in the world (as recently documented by the WikiLeaks)?

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Alert

Play Misty for me

How do you know there are stealth satellites up there? Easy you can't see them, so therfore they must be up there.

It's been a long liquid lunch today.

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Coat

Stealth satelite idea:

I reckon, you make the satelite circular, and paint the bottom to look like the moon, then make it orbit the earth just below the moon, but close enough to earth that it just obscures the moon. People will just think they are looking at the moon and not worry about it.

I'll leave teh exact details up to NASA or whoever wants to implement it.

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IT Angle

RE: Jon Double Nice

Good idea, but what happens when someone notices there's been a full moon every day that year and starts asking questions?

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Heart

More like a lens flare of the moon, from hypocritical regions of Earth.

Jon, are you trying to get the Mossad blamed for more stuff? L-7 moon clones?

It's going to look like Olmo, the Giant Robot Space Banana Mole; Culverton CA's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Mascot.

It's not that it isn't high-security. Orbital Transfer by half-pipe ripping can't be released to the public yet.

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Trendy?

The Saturn V first stage F1 engines burned kerosene (RP-1). The second and third LOX & hydrogen. Yes, I bought the three DVD Saturn V rocket pr0n (for £2).

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'yesterday's delivery is likely to have gone into a high-angle polar track'

DID go into a high-angle polar track. If it had been in any other inclination it would have dumped boosters and spent stages on the US.

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" and paint the bottom to look like the moon "

Yes, but ...

... should you make it out of green or white cheese ? And does there need to be a man in it ?

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Happy

Picture of Wallace and Gromit?

Would a picture of Wallace and Gromit on the moon not be more convincing than just the moon?

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Oldschool?

LOX/LH2 is not "old school". Kerosene and solid fuel is much older technology and less efficient. Oxygen/Hydrogen rockets have higher specific impulse and also create less exhaust polution (i.e., the exhaust is water vapor).

Recon satellites have a stabilizing effect on the world, making it a safer place by enforcing transpanency.

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Who is the enemy ?

Never mind unknown technical details. As military kit who is this meant to oppose ?

Do rebels in Afghanistan have anything that this could work on that could not be better and more cheaply done from aircraft ? Reg has published lots of stories about extreme duration vehicles for reconnaissance.

In the late sixties Nimrod was being developed as airborne early warning and tales were released that it was being abandoned because it saw traffic on German autobahn. That struck me as a reason to keep the project going. So that is what it has been doing over the mountains, identifying wedding parties as terrorists gathering.

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Happy

@Symon & Fat Jez: 'Polar orbit'...

...Explains it perfectly. Thank you.

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Polar orbits

Orbits are either geostationary (I include geosynchronous too), or polar.

The difference between them is simply the distance from the earth, (and speed the projectile needs to attain).

The idea that a particular geographic location on earth can only launch one or the other is nonsense.

The location on the earth where satellite launches takes place is down to safety reasons or for other reasons such as being on a particular continent where the assembly of the space craft has taken place, and thus transportation of the craft to the launch site becomes easier and cheaper.

(But rarely, do satellites exceed approx. 5 tons, so, a transport aircraft could transport them to a launch site).

As one person pointed out, polar orbits can be useful for spy satellites, and not just because the orbit eventually covers the entire surface of the planet, but by being in a lower orbit, better quality pictures can be achieved!!

Geosync or geostationary orbits are great for communication satellites but at 33,000km they're quite far out.

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@Alan Firminger

"In the late sixties Nimrod was being developed as airborne early warning and tales were released that it was being abandoned because it saw traffic on German autobahn."

This wasn't a tale, it was true, and it wasn't the 60's, it was either the 70's or 80's.

They developed a fancy new radar for the Nimrod and they discovered it was picking up quite successfully vehicles moving along the roads.

So with all this additional clutter, they commenced development of further processors to try to remove that clutter.

I have forgotten who the prime contractors were, possible GEC and Marconi; in those days the MoD (PE) dished out most of its contracts in the form of what was called "cost plus" contracts, which I suppose today would be called Time and Materials.

The projects in particular the Nimrod AEW project was a cost plus, it wasn't a fixed price contract, and the project dragged on for years and years. It wasn't delivering, but the costs just keep mounting up. The technological achievements were great, but eventually the government decided enough was enough and terminated it.

If I recall correctly, the two prime contractors blamed each other, and cited poor information sharing between the two companies, claiming that each company couldn't share information because the information any one particular company had, was secret.

The whole thing was a long running farce.

For years later, the Nimrod AEW aircraft that had been converted, were just left lying around, including one at RAF Finningley, if I remember!

The project was abandoned and this led to the RAF/MoD leasing the Boeing 737 AEW aircraft from the USA, which are still in use today by the RAF.

It was a contraversial decision, people wanted the UK to develop a UK aircraft with newer more advanced technology, and in particular newer computing/processing technology, but the Boeing 737 was a larger aircraft and had more space inside.

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And

Thank you TkH11, for your interest and response.

I am forever sceptical. The explanation that the project failed because it saw cars on motorways seemed untrue then, and since the project continued with a/c still in service, untrue now. Perhaps you have access to Air Ministry confidential reports. A sensible explanation is that the performance was published and authority wished to put it back in the box, so they pretended it was useless.

It is worth throwing in another historical detail. In 1953, and I am certain of this date, the RAF Radar Reconnaissance Flight was flying from Wyton. Their Lincolns carried a development from H2S radar. They watched, and photographed, traffic on the street. So I expect surveillance to be much more detailed now.

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Black Helicopters

The title is "Sir"

At that point Marconi was part of GEC. So it may have been GEC Marconi and Plessey. Working in New Parks (Marconi Leicester) we got used to seeing the Nimrod fly over.

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Anonymous Coward

Launch Video

The Vandenberg Air Force base website has posted a video of a (the aforementioned?) Delta IV Heavy liftoff.

See under: Air Force Air Command videos

http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/

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Hypothesis 1

The launched is over sea because it contains a nuclear power supply.

On board is an array of antennae that suck up local transmissions, mostly mobile 'phones but also intercoms. Blade processors apply speech recognition searching for possibly interesting content, findings are saved until they can be dumped on mission control.

Think Menwith Hill in space. It scans China for commerce, Pakistan for terrorism and Iran for government capability and intent.

Cooling is a problem, no air, no water. Energy has to be radiated.

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Anonymous Coward

ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN

Someone check Bradley Mannings cell quick.

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Unhappy

Delta lV

What is difference between the Delta lV and cancelled Ares V and could the Delta lV subsistuted for the cancelled Ares V to replace the retiring Space Shuttle and if the Delta iV or the Atlas V was available why was the Ares V developed in the first place what a waste of money.

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