Earth-observing satellite boosted into orbit

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) ? An Earth-observing satellite has been boosted into orbit to begin a dual mission to improve weather forecasts and monitor climate change.

A Delta 2 rocket carrying the NASA satellite blasted off shortly before 3 a.m. Friday from the central California coast. The satellite was placed into an orbit 500 miles above Earth about an hour after liftoff.

NASA invited a small group of Twitter followers to watch the launch up close.

The $1.5 billion mission was supposed to fly in 2006, but development problems delayed the launch for five years.