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Satellite launched on mission to measure ocean winds

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) -- A satellite was launched Saturday night on a $98 million mission to improve weather forecasting and detect the onset of conditions like El Nino by measuring winds blowing over Earth's oceans.

A Titan II rocket carrying NASA's QuikScat satellite roared off a central coast launch pad at 7:15 p.m., headed for a polar orbit 500 miles high.The launch sequence was expected to take about an hour. QuikScat's first signal was not expected to be heard until 76 minutes after liftoff when it passes over Norway.

A series of recent failures raised concerns about Titan rockets, but QuikScat mission officials were confident their booster would operate properly.