Delta IV heavy rocket is the largest type of the Delta IV family. US recently used the giant Delta IV rocket to carry a spy satellite which is speculated to be on a covert mission for US government’s National Reconnaissance Office.
The rocket, which is more than 21 stories tall, was launched on Wednesday from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Blastoff occurred at 2:30 pm on Wednesday. The rocket was carrying a highly secretive payload known as NROL-65.
It is believed to be the most advanced spy satellite ever launched and costs about $1 billion. The launch is dedicated to the men and women who serve for the nation’s freedom, says a commentator during the launch.
The launch used three main engines, each of which was powered with liquid hydrogen and oxygen and produced 663,000 pounds of thrust. The giant rocket is built by ULA (United Launch Alliances).
According to the ULA, the rocket uses a new strategy which is designed to reduce the flames produced during liftoff by lighting one engine just two seconds before the other two.
ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corporation and Boeing to provide space launch services to the US government. The launch marks the eighth for ULA in 2013, 24th Delta IV mission and the second Delta IV heavy launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Since the mission is highly classified, no other details are available. It’s unclear what intelligence the spacecraft will collect as it zips around out planet.