Rocket Launch Scheduled for Thursday Night

Late this Thursday evening, an Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc. Its undisclosed payload belongs to the National Reconnaissance Office, one of the country’s Big Five intelligence agencies. The 4th Space Launch squadron of the 30th Space Wing will oversee the operation, commanded by Col. Keith Balts.

This week’s will be the tenth rocket launch from Vandenberg and the first Atlas V this year. The rocket was built by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture started in 2006 by the Boeing Company and the Lockheed Martin Corporation and headquartered in Denver, CO.

Jessica Rye, ULA’s senior communications manager, said by phone that three of their rockets launched from Vandenberg in 2013. This kind of rocket is an “evolved expendable launch vehicle,” or EELV, so it’s designed to be used only once.

According to its website, NRO designs, builds, launches, and maintains intelligence satellites that provide the United States with electronic “eyes and ears in critical places where no human can reach.” NRO launched four missions in 2012, two of them from Vandenberg. But like its payload, the mission’s cost is a secret. Rye declined to discuss it, calling the figure “proprietary information” and therefore unavailable to the public.

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly clear sky with winds from 5 to 15 mph. With an expected temperature of about 30 F, there’s also the possibility of frost forming after 10 p.m. The time of the launch is scheduled a little after 11 p.m.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Lawmakers Move to Impede Offshore Oil Leases

A pair of bills aim to counter the federal government's new push for production.

More Money Available for Santa Barbara County’s Disaster Victims

The United Way is giving to Santa Barbara nonprofits and offering direct cash grants.

Santa Barbara’s Commuter Train Brings Solid Ridership and Timely Service

The first two weeks of service have seen a daily average topping 180 riders.

Animal Care for New Cuyama

County Animal Services will host free and discount pet services on April 22.

Goleta’s Library Is Seeking Volunteers

The location is separating from Santa Barbara's system and needs help changing barcodes.