Photo: Last Week's Atlas 5 Spy Mission Rocket Launch
Intrigue, espionage, a media blackout, and a rocket, oh my! This photo from our LAist Featured Photos Pool on Flickr shows the Atlas 5 streaking across the night sky. The rocket was sent off Thursday night from Vandenberg Air Force base, containing a spy satellite on a secret mission.
The details of the launch are such sensitive material that "a media blackout was put in place about 4 1/2 minutes after the Atlas 5 rocket launched toward orbit," according to Space.com (via CBS News). The mission is for the National Reconnaissance Office, and will "definitely serve a role for the U.S. military," say officials.
This was the sixth launch of its kind since September, which is considered an "aggressive launch schedule" for the NRO. It is the 25th time the Atlas 5 has launched since it went into service in 2002.