VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE ( — The largest rocket ever to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base had a successful lift-off Wednesday.

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The Delta IV Heavy rocket was launched with a $1 billion spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) “in support of national defense,” according to aerospace engineering firm United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Once in orbit, the classified payload is expected to be able to distinguish details back on Earth as minute as the make and model of an automobile, according to a ULA spokesperson.

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ULA officials alerted the public about the launch through its Facebook and Twitter pages “so they wouldn’t be concerned when they felt their windows rattle and felt the vibrations,” Hennigan added.

The official launch time was initially scheduled for 10:52 a.m., but the actual launch did not take place until 11:03 PDT.

Los Angeles Times aerospace reporter Bill Hennigan told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO residents up and down the California coastline may have heard — or even felt — the 235-foot rocket following the launch.

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“It’s the largest rocket ever to be launched from Vandenberg,” Hennigan said. “They launched the same rocket in January of 2011, and it was so big, it caused such a stir, people were pulling off the road to see this and some people reported hearing it about 50 miles away.”