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Brace For The Boom: Nation's Largest Rocket Blasts Off This Week

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The Boeing Delta 4 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)
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Expect some very loud booms and monstrous contrails as the nation's largest rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara.The 235-foot Delta IV Heavy rocket may lift off as early as 10:52 a.m. Wednesday, the L.A. Times reports.

The rocket will be carrying a massive, top-secret spy satellite for the federal government, says the Times.

If you want to watch the blastoff, it might be hard to see because it'll be a daytime launch. The Times recommends heading to nearby beaches or mountains but Air Force security and local police have closed nearby locations, such as San Miguelito Canyon and Jalama Beach County Park.

The liftoff will also be webcast at United Launch Alliance's website, who built the rocket as a joint venture of Lockheed and Boeing.

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The last time the Delta IV Heavy rocket was launched from Vandenberg in 2011, people heard the bang from as far away as 50 miles.

Analysts speculate that the rocket is carrying a $1-billion spy satellite capable of snapping pictures detailed enough to distinguish the make and model of an automobile hundreds of miles below. What and where it'll be spying on is, of course, classified.

Although Cape Canaveral, Fla., remains the launch site for NASA's civilian space program, Vandenberg has been the site of military space projects since the '60s. Its launch pad was just upgraded to the tune of $100 million.

United Launch Alliance is based in Centennial, Colorado, but the rocket is assembled at the launch site.

Editor's Note: This post has been amended with more information about United Launch Alliance.

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