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Atlas V Rocket Lifts Off from Vandenberg AFB

Mission includes a top-secret satellite as well as 11 smaller research payloads

An Atlas V rocket carrying a secret payload soars skyward Thursday afternoon, just before its first stage was jettisoned. (Anthony Galván III photo)
An Atlas V rocket carrying a secret payload soars skyward Thursday afternoon, just before its first stage was jettisoned. (Anthony Galván III photo)

Hurtling into the skies at speeds topping 800 mph, an Atlas V rocket carrying a top-secret payload lifted off Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, despite delays that kept the mission grounded for more than a month.

The 200-foot rocket was partially enshrouded by fog as it roared of the launch pad at 2:39 p.m.

The rocket didn’t liftoff as scheduled on Aug. 2 because of instrumentation issues, but by Thursday, those problems had been addresses, according to officials from the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture owned by Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company to provide launch services for the U.S. government, NASA, the military and other organizations.

The spacecraft was sent into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office, which monitors national security issues via satellite.

The rocket also held 11 smaller payloads that will study space weather and communications, space environment, debris mitigation, maritime shipping container tracking and spaceflight safety and orbit refinement,.

These smaller payloads were developed by the Space and Missile Command, the Aerospace Corp., USC, the University of Colorado, Cal Poly, Morehead State University, UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the ULA said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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