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Minotaur 1 rocket launches NROL-66
Posted: February 6, 2011

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A technology trailblazer for U.S. national security spacecraft launches atop a Minotaur 1 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Liftoff occurred Sunday, February 6 at 4:26 a.m. local time from Space Launch Complex 8, the southern-most pad at the Western spaceport.

The yellow thermal blankets provide a dramatic scene at launch. They cover the Minotaur rocket's Minuteman stages. The material is known affectionately as the "banana" because of the color and since it is peeled away in sections.

Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News

Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News