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Alabama’s ULA completes another successful launch for National Reconnaissance Office

Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) continued its service to the nation with the successful launch of another national security space mission.

A ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:09 p.m. local time on Thursday.

The NRO is a joint Department of Defense-Intelligence Community organization and is tasked with operating the nation’s intelligence satellites used for national security.

ULA has a long history of providing the NRO and other members of America’s intelligence community with launch capabilities.

“We are honored to launch the first payload from the newly renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs in a release from the company. “I want to thank our mission partners for their collaboration and teamwork as we worked through technical challenges that culminated in the launch of this critical national security payload. The Delta IV Heavy again demonstrated its success as the nation’s proven heavy lift vehicle, through its unique capability to deliver this mission to orbit due to a combination of performance and fairing size.”

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This is the second mission in recent weeks that ULA has completed on behalf of NRO.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket, according to the company, is utilized for delivering high-priority missions for the U.S. Space Force, NRO and NASA. The vehicle also launched NASA’s Orion capsule on its first orbital test flight and sent the Parker Solar Probe on its journey to become the fastest spacecraft in history while surfing through the sun’s atmosphere.

The rocket, built at ULA’s 1.6 million square foot manufacturing facility in Decatur, is comprised of three common core boosters each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust.

This was ULA’s 142nd mission. The company has enjoyed a 100% launch success rate.

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Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia