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Space United States Science

US Launches Largest Spy Satellite Ever 213

Ponca City, We Love You writes "Space.com reports that over the weekend, a giant booster – a Delta 4 Heavy rocket — carrying a secret new spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office roared into space to deliver into orbit what one reconnaissance official has touted as 'the largest satellite in the world.' The Delta 4 Heavy rocket is the biggest unmanned rocket currently in service and has 2 million pounds of thrust, capable of launching payloads of up to 24 tons to low-Earth orbit and 11 tons toward the geosynchronous orbits used by communications satellites. The mammoth vehicle is created by taking three Common Booster Cores — the liquid hydrogen-fueled motor that forms a Delta 4-Medium's first stage — and strapping them together to form a triple-barrel rocket, and then adding an upper stage. The exact purpose of the new spy satellite NROL-32 is secret, but is widely believed to be an essential eavesdropping spacecraft that requires the powerful lift provided by the Delta 4-Heavy to reach its listening post. 'I believe the payload is the fifth in the series of what we call Mentor spacecraft, a.k.a. Advanced Orion, which gather signals intelligence from inclined geosynchronous orbits,' says Ted Molczan, a respected sky-watcher who keeps tabs on orbiting spacecraft. Earlier models of the series included an unfurling dish structure about 255 feet in diameter with a total spacecraft mass of about 5,953.5 pounds, costing about $750 million and designed to monitor specific points or objects of interest such as ballistic missile flight test telemetry."
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US Launches Largest Spy Satellite Ever

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  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @03:49PM (#34309520)

    None. It either works, or it doesn't.

  • Re:Commendation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @03:50PM (#34309532) Homepage

    Want to learn how to make money selling books? All you have to do is buy my book!

  • Re:more expense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by electrostatic ( 1185487 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @04:09PM (#34309746)
    I'm am American who is proud of our technological superiority over the rest of the world. Meanwhile, every electronic or mechanical device with three or more parts that I own is made in China.
  • Re:Oops (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @04:22PM (#34309902)
    Even more confusing is why they are bragging that it is big. It is a piece of electronics!

    That be like a programmer bragging "I made a printer driver that was 4 GIGS, biggest print driver EVER!". Seriously, bragging about the size is retarded. Then they go on to brag at how awesome of a launch system they needed just to get it into space. Something like "The driver was so bloated people had to buy new computers just to install the driver!"

    On a related note, the city of Tokyo is REALLY big. It is such a big spy satellite that we currently have no launch vehicle remotely near being able to lift all of Tokyo into space! It weighs trillions of tons and completely dwarfs the American built satellite. It even has a few million occupants! Amazing compared to the drab unmanned spy satellite that the US has.
  • by geirlk ( 171706 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @04:34PM (#34310036)

    I thought we all agreed to keep it metric after the last little 'mishap' with the Mars orbiter.

    Imperial units are sooo 2 centuries too old!

    Maybe you didn't get the memo?

  • in the world? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nilbog ( 732352 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:47PM (#34310848) Homepage Journal

    How is it the largest satellite in the world if it's not ... uhh... in the world?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:49PM (#34310874)

    Well, we could have had the Ares V, which would have lifted 200 tons to LEO, but Obama canceled it. Of course, since Obama is the anointed one, we all have to pretend this is a good thing and spout rhetoric like, "Ares was expensive"

    1/10th of the DOD budget would have more than paid for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:31PM (#34311330)

    None. It either works, or it doesn't.

    Only Sith Lords and Republicans deal in absolutes.

  • Re:more expense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:05PM (#34311726) Journal

    I'm am American who is proud of our technological superiority over the rest of the world.

    I'm an American who is proud of our technological ability but not naive enough to believe we have superiority. Sure, we do a lot of things really well (aerospace, computers, medicine) but other countries are ahead of us in certain areas. Russia builds some really amazing rockets and missiles that don't compare to anything in the West. There is no Western equivalent of Russia's supersonic anti-ship missiles. Or their 200 knot torpedoes.

    Anybody that doesn't think our enemies wouldn't have a few rude surprises in store for us if the shit really hit the fan is kidding themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:08PM (#34311766)

    my parents were both alive during the Great Depression. Had the oon suddenly appeared then, somebody would have noticed.

    They lied about Santa, what makes you think they wouldn't lie about the moon?

  • Re:Oops (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday November 22, 2010 @08:28PM (#34312430) Journal

    The NSA and NRO (who knew about the defect because they'd already had problems with it with their own satellites) debated on whether to tell NASA; if they did they'd be essentially publishing the specs of the KH12 to the world (NASA is incapable of keeping a secret), but if they didn't then NASA would have a defective instrument. They chose the latter, and were thoroughly roasted for it (the repairs to the Hubble were a billion-dollar proposition and a public embarrassment), though of course revealing exact intelligence-gathering capability is never a good idea.

    That story sounds "too good to check". Source?

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"