The Lockheed Martin–Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance has launched a National Reconnaissance Office payload aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calfornia.
ULA said Wednesday the Atlas V lifted off with the NROL-79 payload at 12:50 p.m. Eastern time as part of NRO’s national defense mission.
The rocket is based on the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle 401 configuration and powered by RD AMROSS RD-180 and Aerojet Rocketdyne-built RL10C-1 engines.
The U.S. Air Force developed the EELV program in a push to set a standard for assured access to space for Defense Department and other government payloads.
Laura Maginnis, vice president of ULA’s government satellite launch business, said the integrated mission team worked to surpass challenges prior to the launch.
The NROL-79 mission represents the company’s second launch this year.
ULA is also scheduled to launch a WGS-9 satellite for the U.S. Air Force on March 8 from Space Launch Complex-37 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.