Video: Top-secret satellite launches

updated 9/9/2009 3:58:03 PM ET 2009-09-09T19:58:03

An Atlas 5 rocket has lifted off from Florida carrying a highly classified military satellite.

The rocket launched into a nearly cloudless sky at 5:35 p.m. ET Tuesday.

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture involving Lockheed Martin and Boeing, handled the launch.

Eric Brian, a spokesman for the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, declined to say which branch of the military will command the satellite in orbit. Brian said the rocket carried a $500 million payload. The satellite was made by Lockheed Martin.

United Launch Alliance would say only that the payload reached its initial intended orbit about two hours after liftoff. The satellite, known as P360/PAN, appeared to be headed for a geostationary orbit.

Technical issues have twice delayed the rocket's launch in the past two months.

This report was supplemented by

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