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Spy satellite launched off California's coast

Spy satellite launches off California's coast

A rocket carrying a national defense satellite was launched Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

At 7:19 p.m., the Atlas V rocket blasted from the military base just north of Santa Barbara, according to the United Launch Alliance, which built the rocket system.

With more than 2 million pounds of liftoff thrust, it was the most powerful Atlas launch system ever used in California, said United Launch Vice President Jim Sponnick.

Liftoff was originally scheduled for Thursday, but the powerful storm that walloped California forced a one-day delay.

The United Launch Alliance – a partnership between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin – was contracted for the classified mission by the National Reconnaissance Office, the federal agency overseeing the nation’s spy satellites.

The launch marked the 51st Atlas V mission since the rocket was introduced in 2002. 

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. He can be reached at matt.hamilton@latimes.com.

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