Minotaur IV rocket successfully launches Space Force, NRO payload

(Courtesy photo)

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., EDT, July 15 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

This mission, named NROL-129, was the first U.S. Space Force launch and the NRO’s first dedicated launch from WFF. The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, 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.

Mission information, including photos are available on the NRO, NASA Wallops, and Northrop Grumman Corp. website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter sites. 

The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., 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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