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10 historic images of rocket launches

Earth-observing satellite speeding into space on Oct. 28, 2011

Photo: NASA

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A new Earth-observing satellite launches into space aboard a Delta II rocket

Not all rockets from NASA are designed to launch spaceships. Here we see an Earth-observing satellite speeding into space on Oct. 28, 2011, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Called the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project, or NPP, the satellite carries instruments to improve weather forecasts and observe long-term weather patterns. NASA notes that the satellite separated from the rocket some 58 minutes after lift-off and started working not long afterward.