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ATLAS-E ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH 3 SATELLITES

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An Atlas-E rocket roared toward space Wednesday, carrying three small scientific satellites on a $22 million mission aimed at improving military communications and aiding navigation.

The 96-foot rocket lifted off the pad at Space Launch Complex-3 at 8 a.m., said Maj. Tom Worsdale, an Air Force spokesman at this sprawling coastal military base 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles.