ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket to launch NRO spy satellite with ISR electronics and software payload into orbit
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., 9 June 2016. A Delta IV Heavy rocket from United Launch Alliance in Centennial, Colorado, is on track to launch a spy satellite, NROL-37, commissioned by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia, into geosynchronous orbit (GSO) today. The satellite reportedly carries 15,000 pounds of payload, replete with electronics hardware and software for the NRO’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission to boost national defense, officials say.
NROL-37 will be the 32nd Delta IV mission since the vehicle’s inaugural launch in 2002, and the 10th NRO mission to launch on Delta IV.
The size and weight of the satellite payload drove the need for ULA to employ the largest space launch vehicle in its arsenal, the Delta IV Heavy. Aerojet Rocketdyne engines -- the RS-68A liquid hydrogen-fueled engine -- power the heavy rocket’s propulsion.
Today’s Delta IV Heavy launch includes 26 helium pressurization tanks on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle. They are provided by ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey.
The volume of the helium contained within the pressure vessels is enough to inflate more than 50,000 party balloons.
A fairing with a diameter of five meters will protect the payload during ascent. On 13 May 2016, the payload was mated to the Delta IV Heavy rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Fla.
NROL-37 is the 44th NRO launch since 1996 and the 21st from the Cape. It is the sixth NRO mission to launch on a Delta IV Heavy.
ULA reveals the following insights:
Rocket/Payload: A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy will launch the NROL-37 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Date/Site/Launch Time: Thursday, June 9, 2016, from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Launch is planned for 3:05 p.m. EDT (pushed off from 1:59 p.m. EDT or 17:59 GMT).
Mission Description: The mission will be launched for the National Reconnaissance Office in support of national defense.
The NRO has unveiled the NROL-37 mission patch, which depicts a knight, a symbol of courage with a chivalrous code of conduct representing bravery, training, and service to others. The knight stands in front of the U.S. flag in a defensive posture as to protect at all cost. The eagle on the chest is a symbol of both freedom and the United States of America. The sword is a message of tenacious, fierce focus with the claws representing extreme reach with global coverage.
You might also like:
Subscribe today to receive all the latest aerospace technology and engineering news, delivered directly to your e-mail inbox twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Sign upfor your free subscription to the Intelligent Inbox e-newsletter at http://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/subscribe.html.