BIG AND SPOOKY: The largest rocket ever launched from the west coast of the USA blasted off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan. 20th at 1:10 pm PST. "The 23 story-high Delta IV Heavy rocket used three boosters, which produced more than two millions pounds of thrust to carry its payload into orbit," says photographer Anthony Galvan III, who recorded the launch on Figueroa Mountain some 40 miles from the Air Force base:
The massive rocket's "spooky" payload was a top-secret spy satellite belonging to the US National Reconaissance Office. Any doubts about the covert nature of the mission were dispelled 10 minutes after liftoff when the rocket's live feed went deliberately black. Only a twisting contrail in the blue Pacific sky reminded onlookers that, yes, it really happened.