Note: Everything here is public information. I'm not a reporter, but a space fan.
2:21pm EST Update - Success, at least up to the point where they black out news coverage. It got through booster separation, main engine cut-off, second stage engine start, and nose cone jettisonning. That's probably 90% to minimal orbit, and about 50% to it's final orbit.
I used to watch shuttle and other launches obsessively, but in recent years the excitement has waned. I and many others have been more excited by the prospects of private companies getting into the space game, but that too has faded in recent years. SpaceX is doing great stuff, but at about one quarter the speed we all expected. We'll see next month if that continues as they launch their first upgraded Falcon 9 from their new heavy launch pad at Vandenberg But much of the other private space industry excitement has faded in the last five years. First, Scaled Composites and Virgin Gallactic had their rocket engine explosion in the Mohave desert in July of 2007 that killed three of their most experienced rocket engine guys, which completely shocked the entire private space industry. As a result of this and other setbacks, there's been a series of slow collapses of many of these private space companies, such as happened with Armadillo Aerospace this past year.
So what's left to watch for a space enthusiast? Really, it's back to the established players. Later today, the US military will be launching a gigantic satellite (or possibly two) for the National Reconnaissance Office, the government office responsible for providing spy satellites to the CIA and other intelligence agencies of the US government. As usual with these launches, they won't say exactly what they're launching, but based on the launch time and target orbit, which have to be supplied to the public to ensure clearance around the launch pad, experts in the industry probably know what's going up today. The photo at right was taken by a pad teammember early this morning.