Hey - we get to see a rocket lift off from Vandenberg around 9:24pm Thursday night -
by Brian Webb
Thursday evening's launch of an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg
AFB remains on schedule. The rocket is slated to lift-off from Space
Launch Complex 3 at 21:24 (9:24 p.m.) PDT, the start of a launch
window of unknown duration.
The Atlas will initially rise vertically before it slowly pitches
over and heads southward. If the launch occurs as planned, the rocket
will carry The National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-34 payload into
The Atlas V for this launch consists of a liquid propellant core
vehicle with one solid fuel strap-on motor.
The launch window opens 1 hour and 54 minutes after Vandenberg AFB
sunset. It is therefore unlikely that the rocket will be high enough
for its exhaust plume to be illuminated by the Sun during the initial
portion of the launch.
In other words, this is a night event with some interference from
the first quarter Moon. That said, the launch could still be visible
to the naked eye as far away as San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Needles,
Yuma, the interior of northwest Mexico, AND THE COACHELLA CAMPGROUND - provided an observer
was looking at the right place at the right time and had an
Observers as far away as San Marcos Pass and possibly Santa Barbara
may hear a low rumble from the rocket about three minutes after