Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
in space science and rocket technology, a space vehicle (artificial satellite or spaceship) or ballistic missile warhead carrying out a specific mission after separation from the final stage of the rocket carrier. The weight of payloads that can be launched by rockets varies from a few kilograms to several dozen metric tons.
payload(1) The "actual data" in a packet or file minus all headers attached for transport and minus all descriptive meta-data. In a network packet, headers are appended to the payload for transport and then discarded at their destination. In a key-length-value structure, the key and length are descriptive data about the value (the payload). See protocol stack.
(2) In the analysis of malicious software such as worms, viruses and Trojans, it refers to the software's harmful results. Examples of payloads include data destruction, messages with insulting text or spurious email messages sent to a large number of people.