United Launch Alliance (ULA) has begun launch pad work for the NROL-101 mission in support of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The NROL-101 mission will carry a classified satellite payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office abroad an Atlas V 531 rocket. The launch will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
ULA is using an Atlas V 531 rocket that generates nearly two million pounds of thrust to perform the mission. The two-stage rocket will include a 5-meter diameter payload fairing, three solid-fuel boosters and one engine on high-performance Centaur upper stage.
The launch campaign began with the lifting the first stage aboard the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) on Sept. 11. The activities at Cape Canaveral on the day were known collectively as the Launch Vehicle on Stand (LVOS) milestone. Technicians have released the Atlas V first stage from the transportation equipment before rotating the 107-foot-long booster upright.
In the coming days, three Northrop Grumman GEM-63 (Graphite-Epoxy Motor) solid rocket boosters and the Centaur upper stage will be hoisted into the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) for continued #Atlas V stacking operations.
Launch of NROL-101 mission is planned for later this year. The launch will be ULA’s 30th mission for the National Reconnaissance Office.
Nearly two-thirds of UA missions to date have launched U.S. national security payloads for the U.S. Air Force/Space Force (USAF/USSF) and the NRO.