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    Posted April 15, 2011 by
    Goleta, California

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    Atlas 5 rocket carries classified payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     kattmann of Goleta, California, often sees the rockets launched from the nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. He snapped this photograph last night after the Atlas 5 rocket launched.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    An Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Complex 3 Thursday evening at 9:24 PDT. The classified payload is designated as NROL-34 by the National Reconnaissance Office.

    The Atlas rocket is the 25th to be launched from Vandenberg. This particular Atlas configuration uses a single rocket booster, producing 1.2 million pounds of thrust for a 90 second burn before the booster separates from the main body. The main rocket then burns four minutes before it separated from the Centaur upper stage which carries the payload.

    This United Launch Alliance Atlas 5-411 rocket has flown successfully twice before. Once from Cape Canaveral and once from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Vandenberg’s 4th Space Squadron managed the launch.

    This 93 second time exposure shows the rocket flying above the constellation Orion.

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