A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 March 1 at 9:50 a.m. PST. Designated NROL-79, the mission is in support of national defense.
“I congratulate everyone who made this morning’s launch a success. Without the dedicated commitment from our government and industry teams, working together as one, it would not have been possible. All their hard work has contributed to providing superior vigilance from above for the Nation,” said Colonel Matthew Skeen, USAF, Director, NRO Office of Space Launch.
“This successful launch is the result of outstanding teamwork between members of the 30th Space Wing and our partners at the National Reconnaissance Office and United Launch Alliance,” said Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander. “The combined team delivered an important capability for the nation today. It was an exceptional effort.”
Today’s Atlas launch was originally scheduled for the fall of 2016, but was delayed in part due to the wildfires that occurred on Vandenberg. Tragically, firefighter Ryan Osler lost his life in a vehicle accident while responding to the fires. To honor his sacrifice, United Launch Alliance dedicated this launch to Ryan and his family.
“I am so impressed by the incredible teamwork between the NRO, U.S. Air Force our industry partners and the ULA team that resulted in today’s successful launch. The integrated mission team overcame many challenges, including delays associated with the Vandenberg Canyon Fire last year,” said Laura Maginnis, vice president, Government Satellite Launch. “Tragically, Ventura County firefighter Ryan Osler lost his life en route to assist in fighting the fire. We are honored to dedicate today’s mission to Ralph and his family. Thank you to all of the men and women who worked to deliver this critical asset for our nation’s security.”
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter extended payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
“A launch like this requires thousands of hours of activity and practice to execute successfully,” said Lt. Col. Eric Zarybnisky, 4th Space Launch Squadron commander. “Engineers and technicians from my squadron work with members of the United Launch Alliance to ensure a successful launch like this one.”
NROL-79 is the first of five 2017 NRO launches. The next NRO launch is on schedule for April, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida.
This was ULA’s second launch in 2017 and the 117th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
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