CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - The world's largest rocket successfully launched a U.S. spy satelltie into orbit on Saturday afternoon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on June 11, 2016 at 1:51 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
“We are so honored to deliver the NROL-37 payload to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office during today’s incredible launch,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Custom Services. “This was the ninth time ULA launched the Delta IV Heavy, the most powerful launch vehicle in existence today.”
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), which featured a center common booster core along with two strap-on common booster cores. Each common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing 702,000 pounds of thrust. A single RL10 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage.
The last time a Delta IV Heavy launched was in December 2014 for NASA's test flight of the Orion spacecraft.
“The team worked together through many challenges this flow including, overcoming the aftereffects of Tropical Storm Colin,” said Maginnis. “We are proud of the outstanding teamwork between the ULA, NRO and Air Force partners to ensure mission success for this critical national security asset.”
The EELV program was established 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, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
Photo credit: ULA
Video credit: USAF / 45th Space Wing