VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A rocket carrying a national security payload was successfully launched Sunday from a base on California’s central coast, Air Force officials said.

The Minotaur 1 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:26 a.m. amid clear skies, said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander and the mission’s leader. The launch, which was scheduled for Saturday, had been delayed by a day because of power problems with the rocket’s safety equipment.

The four-stage, solid-fueled rocket was carrying a research and development spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, but officials gave no further details on the craft’s purpose or cost.

More than 200 people from the 30th Space Wing, Orbital Sciences Corp., the Space and Missile Systems Center and the National Reconnaissance Office collaborated on the project.

“I am extremely proud of the large group of professionals that came together to launch this rocket,” Boltz said in a statement.

The 63-foot Minotaur 1 is among the smallest of the many rockets that launch from the base 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The rocket is assembled from retired Minuteman stages combined with technology from Orbital Sciences. It can carry up to 1,278 pounds to low-earth orbit.

The launch was the 20th Minotaur mission since the first one launched from Vandenberg in 2000.

The next Vandenberg launch will be a Taurus rocket, also made by Orbital Sciences, scheduled to carry a NASA observation satellite into orbit on Feb. 23.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (78)
  1. Cowboy says:

    “The next Vandenberg launch will be a Taurus rocket, also made by Orbital Sciences, scheduled to carry a NASA observation satellite into orbit on Feb. 23.”

    For the “War on Salt” ?

  2. NoMoreMrNiceGuy says:

    Third tier science. Saving the good stuff for themselves. Kind of like were still using gas engines.

    1. Whatareyoutalking about says:

      What are you talking about? Are you commenting on the wrong article?

    2. strongtea maker says:


      We Americans are smarter thatn that. We know a jet plane when we see one.

  3. concernedcitizen says:

    I’m sure the Chinese government already has the blueprints and opeational plan for whatever went up. They probably know more about it than the US government at this point. Our security in this country is pathetic.

    1. Whoadude says:

      Why don’t you try to get on Vandenberg AFB, and see how pathetic our security is?!? They don’t have anything we(U.S) don’t want them to have……plus, if they have the cash, we can build them a satelite!!

      1. Henry Thoreau says:

        I think Loral and Bill/Hillary Clinton would disagree with you. But as far as Vandenberg, you are correct. The air force isn’t the problem. The executive branch is.

        I’m glad the NRO is getting some equipment up there. It must be a patriotic place. You can’t apply for a job there. You have to be picked out of the service. It’s too bad we keep electing Communists to office.

    2. strongtea maker says:

      In Titusville, Fl directly across the Bananna River from the Space Shuttle launch pad is a three story Chinese Resturant. There was a sign out front for years but the Chinese Resturant never opened. There was always a few cars in the parking lot. I beleive that to track a satilite, the exact lauch time is needed. Now that the Shuttle Program has been terminated, the Chinese Resturant is now for sale. Vandenberg is different, there are probabally experienced Chinese working at the lauch pad.

  4. robert m says:

    Lets just keep the Sandy Berger’s from stuffing the top secret stuff down his pants and socks and having his administration and press calling it “sloppy”!
    Lets not insist on the Chinese launching a top secret missle only to have it fall on it’s side where anyone can harvest it’s secrets.
    Why is China building carrier killing missles? who has aircraft carriers? Why are they building missles to kill early warning statilites. Who has such satillites?

    1. fbhnyc says:

      muat be Fiji – ever since the water, I knew they were up to something

    2. Whoadude says:

      Settle down janet, they are putting out propaganda to distract from the real problem, the collapsing dollar and our country going into ruin by our own hands….

  5. BIZKIt says:

    The National bank is officially so broke they have to buy there own debte to keep inflation from hitting, as soon as the demacrats get thrown out they are going to stop buying ther debte and all the liberal idiots are going to blame republicans for there(liberals) mess. inflations going to hit big time and america is going to suffer more then we have in a hundred years, anyone who is smart sees this coming a mile away, demoncrats hope to use this inflation to try to bring some more government control, the problem is if the government wasnt in this spending frenze, the true free market would fix itself naturally and it will but aslong as democrats keep taking control of the free market they dig the average american into a deeper whole making it impossible to live without there help making the avarage idiot demoncrat think its big business that is causing these sky rocketing prices while in reallity the elected officials are lining there pockets with tax payer hard earned money. When inflation hits and the federal bank can no longer afford to buy there own dept and inflation hits and unemployment skyrockets after the majority of government employies are laid off you will see these lazy unemployed idiots who wont work for minimum wage because theve earned higher pay, LOL then we will have all these unions in america destroy us from the inside, and then while we are thought to be week are enemies will attack and they will see how week we really are, The old school unions will be seen as anti american and the broken system that our government has been trying to control will in turn implode meanwhile we will be working hard to fight our enemies and as GOD has protected us in the past I pray He does so again, And after all this we learn the ageless truth, If you want something done right you have to do it yourself. In the end many of my fellow american brothers will have lost there lives fighting to keep this system of freedom we call a Republic of Laws and rules. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    1. ronnnie rayston says:

      Quite political for a ROCKET LAUNCH article & by the way DUBYA started the unprotected $$ route

    2. Angie says:

      Why would anyone listen to you? You have horrible spelling, syntax and basic grammar skills. There is no possible way that your political opinion is very informed either.

      1. oldskool says:

        Ok Jared…

    3. Angie says:

      Above comment directed at BIZKlt

      1. Mike Cornelison says:

        BIZKit is a fake conservative. No one spells that bad. He’s one of those libs who brings racist signs to Tea Party rallies, not knowing the Tea Partiers are going to chase him the hell out of there.

  6. Ben Bernanke says:

    It’s a printing press, able to directly shower the world with US dollars, under mind-control by ME!

  7. Patriot26 says:

    America be prepared for whatever they’re sending into space is not for terrorist. ITS FOR CITIZENS!!

  8. Babyshaker001 says:

    Interesting …. A four stage solid fuel missle. That means no liguid fuels and all that plumbing. Excellent … pretty good payload capabilities too. I wonder what latitude it’s orbit is? If it’s low earth orbit, it’s going like a bat out of hell. I predict a dustup in the deserts of North Africa. This “Item” that went up is a … oops nevermind.

    1. Shawn Oehlke says:

      Reconaissance satellites are almost always pole orbiting so longitude is the most critical

  9. OneWhoKnows says:

    You are all crazy.

  10. Stephen Strachan says:

    Man, what a bunch of semi-literates!

    1. but-seriously-folks says:

      Yes, and they call other people idiots.

  11. John Collins says:

    No doubt the real purpose of the secret payload is to spy on the American people. The real reason for American government secrecy is usually to keep things hidden from the citizens.

    1. saul says:

      Yes John because we all would love to find out about your fascinating life! Imagine if we could see into your bedroom and see you typing on a website fascinating indeed!

  12. Robert Murphy says:

    I Like the comments, hate the grammar. What did they launch? Nunya, none of your business. It’s called national security.

    They’re the good guys. I work in a building with some very special government agencies and they go about their business and I go about mine. I ain’t skeered, I ain’t doing nothing wrong….sorry about the grammar.

  13. Kirk Vaughn says:

    They aren’t spying on us. They are responding to this.

    The US is a mild space/arms race with China at the moment. Hopefully we can stay far enough ahead of them strategy wise that they don’t overtake us on that front as well.

    1. rogerdodger says:

      I agree. Whatever has enabled the Chinese to rapidly gain expertise in space flight has prompted a mini space race with the U.S. Was it the Clinton administration and Loral? Yes, but what was exactly sold to them, we’ll never know. But, that was the mid ’90’s and hopefully we can stay well ahead of the Chinese … as long as we don’t bankrupt the country (which will happen soon imo).

  14. Kimmy says:

    didn’t the Klintonistas and Loral sell US rocket / missile technology to the Chicoms quite a while back ? They own us anyway.

  15. Captain Howdy says:

    This news story is probably yet another hoax perpetrated by the media-industrial-mindcontrol complex (you pathetic morons bite the hook again and again). Those who understand the true nature of our modern society are aware that television, movies, popular music, comercials, social media and their congruent “peer pressure” are the most powerful weapons on earth today. The elite rulers of society (the wealthiest 1%) use these tools like skilled puppet masters. Welcome to the MATRIX, suckers…

  16. John Galt says:

    What good is national security when people elect presidents who give away the store! Clinton gave the Chinese our rocket and computer secrets, Obama is disarming us of our nucs.

    Liberalism is a disease, a mental disorder! Rick Jasper is right, we ARE doomed!

  17. Cowboy says:

    Who’s ‘national security’ ?

  18. Whoadude says:

    OOOOOH, looky, a pretty rocket!!!

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