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.”
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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.