A giant 21 stories tall Delta IV Heavy rocket has been launched for the second time from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on a covert mission for the US government’s National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The launch used three main engines with one powered by RS-68 liquid hydrogen and oxygen and the rest two powered by RL10 liquid hydrogen and oxygen (developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne), according to United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) press release, which built the rocket.
The payload was encased by a five-meter diameter (16.7 foot diameter), 65-foot, metallic tri-sector payload fairing.
The rocket is carrying “a massive, top-secret spy satellite” which is probably a $1-billion high-powered spy satellite capable of snapping pictures detailed enough to distinguish the make and model of an automobile hundreds of miles below, according to the Los Angeles Times.
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V AEHF-3 mission for the U.S. Air Force scheduled on September 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force base, Florida.