IMG_7728a_Delta 4 Heavy_Ken Kremer

Mighty Delta 4 Heavy Rocket and Clandestine Satellite Poised at Pad

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

Image caption: The Delta 4 Heavy rocket and Super secret payload stand poised for launch at 6:13 a.m. EDT on June 29, 2012 following retraction of the mobile service tower. Credit: Ken Kremer

A mighty triple-barreled Delta 4 Heavy rocket with a clandestine military satellite perhaps the size of Hubble was unveiled this evening (June 28) at a seaside launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The 232 foot tall rocket is poised to blast off at 6:13 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The exact launch window, like everything else about the classified mission and the NROL-15 spy satellite is top secret.

The mobile service tower was retracted from around the absolutely gorgeous white and orange colored rocket starting around 8:30 p.m. and the super secret spy satellite being launched for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) – see my photos.

The launch was delayed a day by the lingering devastation caused by Tropical Storm Debby.

Image caption: Delta 4 Heavy rocket and top secret NRO payload are poised for launch on June 29. Credit: Ken Kremer/

The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy is flying for the first time with upgraded RS-68A first stage engines, each of which delivers 720,000 pounds of thrust.

This will be the 6th launch of the Delta 4 Heavy – now the most powerful rocket in the US fleet following the shutdown of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

As of 12:45 a.m. June 29 , the countdown is now underway ! Fueling will commence shortly. Stay tuned for a post – launch report

Ken Kremer

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1 Response

  1. gopher652003 says:

    The newest iteration of the D4H looks like it can carry a payload just shy of the Columbia class shuttle’s maximum LEO payload of 24000kg. Pretty cool:). The Atlas 5 Heavy (which hasn’t actually flown yet because no one has pre-ordered one) is suppose to have a max LEO payload of 25 tonnes, which should exceed the safe payload of the shuttle.

    I’m also curious about the proposed upgrades to the Atlas V which would eventually put it in the 75 tonne range.

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