United Launch Alliance (ULA) has successfully launched a national security payload from the Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US, for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of national defence.
The Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) carrying NROL-42 payload was launched from Space Launch Complex-3 on 23 September for the US intelligence agency that maintains American intelligence satellites.
The EELV features a 5m payload fairing (PLF) and four solid rocket boosters. The rocket booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.
The lift-off is ULA’s sixth launch this year and also marks the 121st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
ULA Government Satellite Launch vice-president Laura Maginnis said: “Congratulations to the entire team for overcoming multiple challenges throughout this launch campaign. The team maintained a clear focus on mission success.
“NROL-42 marks the 25th ULA-launched NRO mission, building upon our legacy of partnership with the NRO in providing reliable access to space for our nation’s most critical missions.”
ULA is expected to launch the next NROL-52 mission for the NRO on 5 October from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.
The US Air Force’s EELV programme provides access to space for the Department of Defense and other government payloads.