A rocket carrying two experimental satellites has blasted off from a launch pad in Virginia.

The Minotaur One rocket blazed across the sky just before sunrise, in the first launch from the mid-Atlantic region's commercial spaceport.

Teams had spent the week resolving a software glitch that had scrubbed a liftoff on Monday.

The main payload is a satellite that will test the military's ability to quickly transmit images of enemy targets to battlefield commanders.

Also aboard is a NASA satellite carrying a harmless strain of E-coli bacteria. It's part of an experiment to study the long-term effects of space on living organisms.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, a state agency, built the commercial launch pad in 1998 to try to help bring jobs to the economically depressed Eastern Shore region. Maryland later joined the venture.

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