Rocket with secret payload launches off California

December 6, 2013

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 .

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.

Explore further: Rocket launches from California coast

Related Stories

Rocket launches from California coast

April 15, 2011

A rocket carrying a national security payload has been successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast.

Mid Atlantic rocket launch set for Tuesday night

November 18, 2013

Much of the U.S. East Coast is expected to get a view of a mid-Atlantic rocket launch Tuesday night, when the Air Force and NASA will try to put 29 tiny satellites into orbit, including a smartphone and a satellite built ...

Recommended for you

STEREO—10 years of revolutionary solar views

October 26, 2016

Launched 10 years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA's STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun, including the first-ever simultaneous ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.