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Ready for Blast Off: Largest Rocket Ever to Launch Today

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The Delta IV Heavy rocket is considered the tallest and largest rocket ever, and is poised to launch early this afternoon and on schedule from the West Coast, according to The launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base is set for 1:08 p.m. today.

The Delta IV stands 23-stories high, and "will be carrying a top-secret spy satellite for the U.S. government capable of snapping pictures detailed enough to distinguish the make and model of an automobile hundreds of miles below," according to the LA Times.

Vandenberg personnel have been reaching out to residents in Lompoc to assure them that what they experience in terms of shaking and sound during the launch is not an earthquake, though the Delta IV is "so large that base officials have studied whether the thunderous blastoff will shatter windows nearby." Some areas have been closed as a precaution, but officials expect locals will turn out to take a look at the rocket as it heads off. A large plume of white smoke over the Pacific will be visible for several miles.

The Delta IV "was built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Boeing Co. It is the nation's largest unmanned rocket." ULA will be webcasting the launch live today.

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