Minotaur IV rocket successfully launches NRO payload
NASA WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, Va. – The U.S. Space Force successfully launched a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office aboard a Minotaur IV rocket at 9:46 a.m. EST (6:46 a.m. Pacific) today from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
This mission, named NROL-129, was the first USSF launch and the NRO’s first dedicated launch from WFF. The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman Corporation, lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0B at NASA’s WFF and was visible throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
“I am thrilled with today’s successful launch for our NRO mission partner, and look forward to our additional missions with Northrop Grumman,” stated Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of SMC Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division. “This was the first USSF mission and the first dedicated NRO mission from WFF and we look forward to continuing to launch national priority satellites for our NRO mission partner.”
“Congratulations to the entire government and industry NROL-129 team on successfully pressing forward to execute this important mission amidst this global pandemic,” stated Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise.
This mission is managed by the SMC Launch Enterprise’s Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) and was awarded under the Orbital/Suborbital Program 3 (OSP-3) Lane 1 capability.
“We looked forward to launching NROL-129 for our National Reconnaissance Office customer," said Brig. Gen. Jason Cothern, SMC vice commander and Air Force program executive officer for Space Enterprise. "This is a great example of using SMC's small launch contracts to expand our capability to provide reliable assured access to space."
“We have successfully launched 26 Minotaur missions with our last Minotaur mission from Wallops in 2013,” stated Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of SMC’s Launch Small Launch and Targets Division. “This will be our first U.S. Space Force mission and the first dedicated NRO mission from Wallops. We look forward to continuing to launch national priority satellites for our NRO partner.” Rose is responsible for the launch service which includes range support, launch vehicle integration, space vehicle interface and mating, and the launch service for this important mission.
The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. SMC’s portfolio includes space launch, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, a defense meteorological satellite control network, range systems, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.
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