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Atlas V Rocket Launches From California Coast

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ATLAS ROCKET
United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday night at 11:14 carrying a NRO satellite. The Atlas V rocket, carrying a secret payload for the U.S. government, lit up the night sky at about 11:15 p.m. Thursday Dec. 5, 2013, lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base toward low-Earth orbit. (AP Photo/United Launch Alliance, Daniel Dreifuss) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A rocket carrying a secret payload for the U.S. government has successfully launched from the central California coast.

The Atlas V rocket lit up the night sky at about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base toward low-Earth orbit.

The 19-story-tall rocket carried a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation's system of intelligence-gathering satellites. The agency has not released any details about the payload.

A California cold snap had threatened a possible delay, but the rocket took off within moments of the opening of its launch window.

Thursday's launch was the second time an Atlas 5 rocket has lifted off from the West Coast this year. Overall, there have been 77 Atlas V launches from Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Around the Web

Atlas V - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atlas V - United Launch Alliance