Wednesday, November 25 , 2015, 4:27 pm | Fair 59º

Atlas Rocket Heads to Space With Weather Satellite

Launch was the first from Vandenberg AFB in 2014

An Atlas V rocket leaves the launch pad at Vandenberg AFB on Thursday, carrying a weather satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense.
An Atlas V rocket leaves the launch pad at Vandenberg AFB on Thursday, carrying a weather satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense.  (United Launch Alliance photo)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

An Atlas V rocket roared toward space from Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday, carrying a meteorological satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense.

It was the first launch of 2014 from the North County base.

The rocket departed from Space Launch Complex-3 shortly after the launch window opened at 7:46 a.m.

Weather at take-off time had been expected to be “very favorable,” with clear skies, light northerly winds, no low cloud cover and temperatures hovering around 52 degrees, and that's pretty much what the launch team got.

United Launch Alliance built the rocket, while Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman manufactured the accompanying satellite, which will continually send space weather data to military forces in support of critical operations.

The last time an Atlas V rocket launched from Vandenberg — that time carrying a top-secret payload — was in December.

The satellite program aboard the rocket operates in sun-synchronous orbits, sending down imagery, microwave and space weather data to provide the military with critical situational awareness information, while also helping weather forecasters predict regional and global weather patterns, such as severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and typhoons.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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