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The mobile service tower was retracted from around the absolutely gorgeous white and orange colored rocket starting around 8:30 p.m. and the super secret spy satellite being launched for the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/www.kenkremer.com
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
Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight – www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter