Photos: Minotaur IV rocket launches from Vandenberg AFB

A Minotaur IV booster carrying a military space surveillance satellite lifted off from Vandenberg AFB this evening from South Base at 9:41 p.m. PDT. 

A first-of-its-kind military tool to monitor satellites and space junk is aboard the rocket. According to the U.S. Air Force, the device will help keep better tabs on the more than half a million pieces of space junk that pose a potential hazard to operational satellites and manned spacecraft.

These photos were taken with a Canon 50D from Santa Barbara’s Westside.  Both exposures were more than 10 seconds long.