Falcon 9 thunders away from Vandenberg

SpaceX launched a souped-up version of its Falcon 9 rocket Sunday on a proving flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, testing upgraded engines and other systems designed to achieve the company's ambitious manifest of satellite launches, space station resupply missions and crewed expeditions.

Liftoff with Canada's Cassiope space weather satellite occurred on time from Space Launch Complex 4-East at 9 a.m. PDT (12 p.m. EDT; 1600 GMT).

The rocket deployed six small satellites, including Cassiope, into orbit within about 20 minutes.

See our Mission Status Center for live coverage of the launch.

Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News

Expedition 29 Patch
Space models