The launch of a heavy Delta launcher on the Californian base Vandenberg with an ultra-secret American spy satellite has broken down at the last minute,  A futuristic looking Delta-IV Heavy from Boeing had to take off with a spy satellite on board.

But 7.5 seconds before the start, the computers discovered a problem and the launch was automatically cancelled. Half a second later, the first of the three thrusters would normally ignite.

Engineers from launch company United Launch Alliance were able to quickly move the 23-storey high into a safe mode and set the countdown clock four minutes to view the telemetry. A few minutes later it was decided not to launch. A new launch time dot has not yet been recorded. What exactly is going on has not yet been communicated.

The payload is known as the NROL-71, but what the artificial moon is not communicated. Independent experts think it is an advanced optical espionage satellite that should run an unusual near-polar orbit.

The NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) is a government service that gathers intelligence from space.

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