Rocket Carrying Secret Payload for System of Intelligence-Gathering Satellites Launches Off California Coast

National Reconnaissance Office won't discuss the payload

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A rocket carrying a secret payload for the U.S. government has successfully launched from the central California coast.

The Atlas V rocket lit up the night sky at about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base toward low-Earth orbit.

The 19-story-tall rocket carried a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation's system of intelligence-gathering satellites. The agency has not released any details about the payload.

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