The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise team and its mission partners successfully launched the National Reconnaissance Office Launch (NROL)-82 mission on United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in northern Santa Barbara County, Calif., at 1:47 p.m., PDT, Time, April 26, 2021.
“The payload launched today is one of the most complex payloads our nation launches and it provides vital space capability,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise. “That’s why we have to get it right the first time. The launch team performed flawlessly and I am so proud of the work they do to ensure 100 percent mission success.”
The Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle has been the workhorse for the NRO’s heaviest satellites for the past decade. This is the first USSF National Security Space Launch this year and the NRO’s 18th mission from VAFB since 2006.
“Congratulations to our NRO, ULA, 30th Space Wing and SMC team for a successful NROL-82 launch,” said Col. Erin Gulden, chief of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Atlas and Delta Division. “It is a testament to the skill and dedication of our team to have successfully placed 85 of 85 national security payloads in orbit.”
Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority.
“The teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance, and numerous other agencies was outstanding,” said Mastalir. “National Security Space Launch is a ‘no-fail’ mission that requires the highest level of professionalism and dedication from all the Airmen and Guardians assigned to Team Vandenberg.”
This was the ninth Delta IV-Heavy launched from Vandenberg, with the first launch occurring Jan. 20, 2011, and it is the largest rocket ever to launch from the West Coast of the United States.
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 domain awareness capabilities.