01:52 PM

Air Force Launches Enormous Spy Satellite

A Delta IV Heavy rocket lifted off Sunday on a top-secret defense mission, according to the National Reconnaissance Office.

Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
(click for larger image and for full slideshow)

The Air Force over the weekend launched what is believed to be the largest-ever spy satellite on a top-secret mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

A Delta IV Heavy rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday in a national defense mission, according to the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that constructed the satellite.

While the NRO, which is leading the satellite's mission, said little about what it will be doing in space other than commenting on the satellite's size, published reports said it is likely to be eavesdropping for the National Security Agency (NSA).

More specifically, the payload, which includes an array of radio receivers and a massive antenna, is believed to be aimed at intercepting communications for the NSA, reports said.

It was the fourth Delta IV Heavy launch for the ULA; there have been 351 rockets launched so far in the Delta program. The alliance has launched 45 missions in the 48 months since its inception on Dec. 1, 2006.

The mission is ULA's last for this year; the next launch is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2011 from Vandenberg Air Force Station in California.

The satellite launched Sunday features a center common booster core with two strap-on common booster cores, each one powered by the RS-68 cryogenic engine, according to ULA. The second stage of the launch was powered by an RL10B-2 Rocketdyne. ULA built the Delta Heavy launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala., one of its several locations.

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are based in Denver. In addition to its location in Decatur, manufacturing, assembly, and integration also happens in Harlingen, Texas, and San Diego. ULA rockets typically launch from either Cape Canaveral or Vandenburg.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
E-Commerce Security: What Every Enterprise Needs to Know
The mainstream use of EMV smartcards in the US has experts predicting an increase in online fraud. Organizations will need to look at new tools and processes for building better breach detection and response capabilities.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio