The US launched a rocket carrying a military and space reconnaissance satellite.
The launch took place from a launch site in Florida. The satellite was delivered into orbit by the Delta IV Heavy rocket.
Data on the satellite and its characteristics are classified. However, according to former NASA official David Baker, familiar with the NRO programme, it is the launch of the American Orion spacecraft, also known as Mentor or Advanced Orion, a series of US satellites designed for electronic reconnaissance.
“It weighs more than 5 tonnes and is equipped with a huge parabolic antenna over 100 metres in diameter that unfolds in orbit,” said Baker.
He said the giant bus-sized satellite would be launched into an equatorial orbit at an altitude of 36,000km.
The main task of the new US satellite is to intercept telemetric information and listen to the communication channels of geostationary satellites.