Spaceflight

Classified US satellite launched from California

This photo provided by United Launch Alliance shows an Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-79 mission at the Space Launch Complex-3, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (United Launch Alliance via AP)

This photo provided by United Launch Alliance shows an Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-79 mission at the Space Launch Complex-3, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (United Launch Alliance via AP)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  — A rocket carrying a classified U.S. satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office has been launched from California.

The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off at 9:49 a.m. Wednesday and roared away into a clear sky over Vandenberg Air Force Base.

All systems were going well when the launch webcast concluded about five minutes into the flight, as is customary during such missions.

The satellite dubbed NROL-79 is described only as a national security payload for the NRO.

The once-secret office operates an array of intelligence-gathering satellites.

The launch was conducted by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and the Air Force's 30th Space Wing.