An Atlas V rocket carrying a top-secret satellite roared into space late Thursday night from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The towering rocket put on a fiery show as it cut through the cold night sky, and could be seen and heard throughout much of Santa Barbara County.
Earlier in the day, launch forecasters indicated the chilly weather gripping the Central Coast could force a scrub of the launch, but by late afternoon they were saying the chances looked good.
At 20 minutes prior to scheduled blastoff, officials had ruled out weather as a possible impediment to launch.
The launch was the eighth by United Launch Alliance for the National Reconnaissance Office, and the fifth from Vandenberg.
"This was our eleventh launch for 2013 and I couldn't be more proud of this team of professionals," said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander. "This new capability represents our commitment to enhanced competitive launch services in support of national defense."
The Atlas V launched Thursday night was 192-feet tall, and weighed some 76,000 pounds. I develops 860,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff.
In addition to the National Reconnaissance payload, the rocket also delivered 12 small CubeSats into orbits for a vareity of clients.