TECH

NROL-35: US Launches Top-Secret Spy Satellite Under Media Blackout

15/12/2014 09:55 GMT | Updated 15/12/2014 14:59 GMT

The United States military launched its largest spy satellite on the Eastern Coast on Friday amidst a media blackout which left Los Angeles residents confused after the sky was lit up by the launch.

The ultra-secretive NROL-35 mission is the single largest spy launch that has been accomplished on the Western Coast using a massive Atlas V rocket which developed around 2 million pounds of thrust during takeoff.

Taking off at around 7:19pm from Vandenberg Air Force Base the launch was seen by enthusiasts and local residents as the sheer size of the rocket lit up the surrounding night sky.

NROL-35 is the latest rocket to be launched by the National Reconnaissance Office -- America's spy satellite organisation -- and while the contents of the spacecraft are always top-secret it's widely believed that this is the first in a new generation of spy satellites.

atlas v rocket

It's believed that NROL-35 is the first in a replacement program that'll be upgrading America's 'ageing' spy network that was launched around 2006.

While little else is know about the capabilities of the satellite rocket enthusiasts have remarked that the modules that were launched did contain self-defence features that would protect them against incoming missile attacks.