Spy in the sky!

The Pentagon's creepy National Reconnaissance Office is launching another Orwellian billion-dollar spy machine tonight, but at least it will provide a colorful light show over much of the western United States.

The "classified payload" will be launched on a Delta IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The high-security base is on California's central coast, north of Santa Barbara.

First scheduled in 2004, the mission has since been delayed eight times, leaving a gaping hole in Washington's efforts to record the activities and thoughts of every single American.

It's the inaugural West Coast launch of the huge Delta IV cargo rocket.

Vandenberg wasted some $4 billion on a West Coast space-shuttle launch site that was never used, and has since converted the boondoggle into a Delta platform.

"The rocket will fly in a configuration with two strap-on solid rocket boosters," reported SpaceFlightNow.com.

Evening launches from Vandenberg have created stunning light shows in the western skies.

"In order for a launch to be visible from a given location, it has to be above the observer's horizon at some point," says SpaceArchive.info.

"The visibility footprint for a launch is controlled by the vehicle's trajectory or flight path. Of primary importance are the direction of launch, steepness of the flight path, and how high the vehicle is during the powered phase .... Delta, Taurus, and other satellite launch vehicles fly towards the south and climb more slowly."

Twilight launches are the "most impressive," according to the site.

"If the conditions are right, the Sun is below the observer's horizon and sunlight illuminates the vehicle's contrail and exhaust plume, creating a display visible for distances of several hundred miles."

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