A military satellite is blasted into space from the California coast Thursday April 3, 2014.
A U.S. military weather satellite was launched Thursday morning from California's coast.
An Atlas V rocket carrying the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-19 spacecraft blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:46 a.m. PDT Thursday and soared past a thin layer of low clouds, headed for a polar orbit. United Launch Alliance webcast commentator Matt Donovan said the satellite was scheduled to be released from the upper stage 18 minutes after liftoff.
The program's satellites have been the primary provider of terrestrial and space weather information to the U.S. military for 50 years, according to The Air Force.
The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is part of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. The technology allows military forecasters to locate and track weather systems all over the world, including remote areas in which troops are deployed.
The launch was the first in five years for the 50-year-old program. Many of the previous satellites launched through the program have been funtioning beyond their designed lifecycle.
Vandenberg AFB is about 70 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.