Secret government payload launched into orbit from California base

A rocket carrying a government payload was successfully launched early Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s Central Coast, officials said.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket was carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which develops and operates satellites used for intelligence gathering and national security.

“This is our second successful launch within five days for our U.S. government customer, a testament to our outstanding teamwork and focus on 100% mission success, one launch at a time,” said Laura Maginnis, United's vice president of custom services. “ULA is proud to be entrusted with safely and reliably delivering our nation’s most critical space assets to orbit.”

The NROL-45 national defense mission launched the rocket about 3:40 a.m. from the base roughly nine miles from Lompoc.

According to the National Weather Service, the rocket was visible from vantage points to the east and southeast.

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