Earth-observation satellite launched from Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — A rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite for civilian and military use has launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County.

Vandenberg officials say the Delta II rocket blasted off at 7:20 p.m. Friday from the base.

The payload was the last part of a four-satellite system called COSMO-SkyMed that uses radar to create images for defense and scientific purposes, mainly in the Mediterranean region.

The satellite system was developed under an agreement between the Italian Space Agency and Italy’s defense ministry.

The launch had been delayed since Sunday after problems with a propellent and a heater that kept the rocket’s engines warm.

The roar and thin yellow contrails from Vandenberg launches can usually be heard and seen in San Luis Obispo County, especially in the South County, depending on weather and the rocket’s trajectory.