August 29, 2013 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: United Launch Alliance; issued August 28, 2013)
National Reconnaissance Office Mission Successfully Launches on World's Largest Rocket, the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy
VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. --- A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 here at 11:03 a.m. PDT today. Designated NROL-65, the mission is in support of national defense. This is ULA's eighth launch in 2013, the 24th Delta IV mission and the second Delta IV Heavy launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"We are truly honored to deliver this critical asset to orbit," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. "The ULA Delta IV Heavy is currently the world's largest rocket, providing the nation with reliable, proven, heavy lift capability for our country's national security payloads from both the east and west coasts. I congratulate the combined NRO, Air Force, ULA, and supplier team on today's successful launch of the NROL-65 mission."
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-68 Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen engine producing 663,000 pounds of thrust. A single RL10 Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. The payload was encased by a five-meter diameter (16.7-foot diameter), 65-foot, metallic tri-sector payload fairing. ULA constructed the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala.
ULA's next launch is the Atlas V AEHF-3 mission for the United States Air Force scheduled on Sept. 18, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The EELV program was established by the United States 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.
ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.