SpaceVidsNet (via YouTube)
The world's largest rocket operating successfully launched today, August 28th 2013 at 18:03 UTC from Vandenberg Air Force in California. The 23 story rocket carried the top secret NROL-65 payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office. This was the 7th Delta IV heavy to launch and the 24th Delta IV overall.
A huge rocket carrying a spy satellite for the United States has launched from the central California coast.
United Launch Alliance says liftoff occurred Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The 23-story Delta IV Heavy — the largest rocket in the country — carried a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation's system of intelligence-gathering satellites.
Since the mission is classified, no other details were available.
Residents from all over the region turned their cameras skyward and captured some amazing images of the launch from the ground.
In one short clip, a YouTube user captured the rocket as it left its contrail behind, pressing upward as a single point of light like a star ascending:
Another YouTube clip shows the contrail forming above a woman's house as she and her family watch:
This was the second time this type of rocket has launched from the West Coast base. The first occurred in 2011 and shook the nearby city of Lompoc. Some spectators reported hearing the rocket's roar from 50 miles away.
For the latest launch, base officials closed a nearby beach as a precaution.