Classified US spy satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base

A NASA satellite surveys the Earth.
A NASA satellite surveys the Earth.
Photo by NASA's Earth Observatory via Flickr Creative Commons

A spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was launched on Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the classified satellite lifted off at 10:49 p.m. on Saturday. 

People in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties reported seeing the rocket fly across the sky.

The launch was also livestreamed online. All systems were going well when the launch webcast concluded about three minutes into the flight.


U.S. officials have not revealed what the NROL-42 satellite will be doing or what its orbit will be.

National Reconnaissance Office satellites gather intelligence information for U.S. national security and an array of other purposes including assessing the impacts of natural disasters.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.