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Secret Spy Satellite Launched From Cape Canaveral

An Atlas V rocket carrying a classified satellite for the U.S. government's National Reconnaissance Office blasted off this morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Little is known about the secretive satellite and its mission, other than it was launched in the interest of "national defense," according to United Launch Alliance, the private space company contracted to carry the satellite into orbit.

The National Reconnaissance Office was created in 1961 to be "eyes and ears in critical places where no human can reach." The existence of the office was declassified to the public in 1992.

Live launch coverage of ULA's Atlas V rocket launching the NROL-61 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. United Launch Alliance

Despite the secretive nature of the launch, the NRO still had plenty of fun promoting it with a cartoon-like gecko mascot named Spike.

The character is featured on the mission patch for the launch and is painted on the side of the rocket. Over the past few days, the NRO tweeted images showing the green lizard "training" for his mission.