United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches national security payload for National Reconnaissance Office


CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., 20 June 2012. A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of national defense, has lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41.

The NROL-38 mission was launched aboard an Atlas V EELV 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, while the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A-4 engine.

Developed by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads, the commercially developed EELV Program supports the full range of government mission requirements.  

"Congratulations to the NRO and to all the mission partners involved in this critical national security launch," says Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "This launch marks an important milestone as we celebrate the 50th successful Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) mission, with 31 Atlas V and 19 Delta IV missions flown since August 2002."

NROL-38 is the first of three critical missions ULA is scheduled to launch for the NRO within the next two months. ULA's next launch is the Delta IV NROL-15 mission for the NRO scheduled 28 June from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

"Twelve of the 50 EELV launches have been NRO missions and these have been vital to our overall mission of delivering on commitments critical to our national security," notes Bruce Carlson, director, National Reconnaissance Office.

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo.  Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

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