Delta IV Heavy plume - barely visible through afternoon haze over LA (Guy Norris)
Glimpsed from a distance of 200 miles, the largest rocket ever to launch from the U.S west coast lifted off around 1.10 p.m. PST from Vandenberg AFB. The event also marks the first west coast liftoff of the Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle, and the first use of Space Launch Complex-6 since completion of a three-year, $100 million upgrade effort.
While this is the first Delta IV HLV from Vandenberg, it is also the fifth in the program’s history. The first launch occurred in January 2004 from the east coast. The rocket carried a national security L-49 surveillance satellite for the NRO, and at the time of posting, no word yet on the status of the payload.