Is a launch still clandestine if everyone sees it? Apparently so, as the launch of a secretive payload out on Friday was seen across southern California, yet was totally successful. What the latest secret satellite will do is up for debate, but it has an excellent mission patch.
The HEXAGON satellite spied on America's Cold War foes for over a decade, taking extremely detailed (film!) photographs from space. It was 60 feet long—bigger than a bus. And the public never, ever saw it. We did.