- Atheists sue to remove ‘Ground Zero Cross’ from 9/11 museum
- Bishop in Aleppo: ‘We Christians live in fear in Syria’
- Oscar Pistorius vomits during graphic testimony
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flubs daylight saving time advice: ‘Turn your clocks back’
- Americans don’t support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
Rocket with secret payload launches from Calif.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. (AP) - A rocket carrying a top-secret payload blasted off Tuesday from the California coast.
The Delta IV rocket lifted off at 4:12 p.m. from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
“We’ve just seen the successful liftoff” of the rocket, launch commentator Don Spencer said in a webcast.
Since the launch involved a classified cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office, no details were immediately available about whether it was boosted to its intended orbit.
The reconnaissance office, which oversees the nation’s constellation of spy satellites, has kept mum about the purpose of the mission and directed United Launch Alliance to cut off the live broadcast three minutes after liftoff.
Intelligence analysts think the rocket carried a radar imaging satellite capable of seeing at night and through bad weather. In recent years, the United States has worked to phase out its fleet of older, heavier radar reconnaissance satellites with smaller but equally capable ones, said Charles Vick, a space policy analyst with the Globalsecurity.org think tank.
Such radar satellites would be able to zero in on countries of interest and see details that typical Earth satellites can’t, experts said.
Tuesday’s launch involved reconfiguring the rocket to add on two strap-on boosters to provide more thrust. The protective nose cone enclosing the payload also had to be made larger.
ULA, the joint venture of rocket builders Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., said it was the first time the Delta IV had been launched this way.
The launch was delayed nearly a week as engineers worked to fix an issue with the upper stage engine.
The next launch out of Vandenberg will be a flight test of the Minuteman III on April 10.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again