The U.S. Space Force successfully launched a classified payload on June 15 for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) aboard a Minotaur I rocket at 9:35 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
The NROL-111 mission is the third U.S. Space Force launch from Wallops and the NRO’s second Minotaur launch from Wallops. The launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman Corporation, lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0B at NASA’s WFF and was visible in the morning sunrise. This launch signifies the fourth successful launch mission in less than a month that the Small Launch and Targets Division have supported.
“I am thrilled with today’s successful launch for our NRO mission partner, and look forward to future missions with Northrop Grumman,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division. “We have launched 27 successful Minotaur missions, with our last Minotaur launch from Wallops in 2020. This success continues to reinforce that the Launch Enterprise has multiple paths to rapidly acquire agile launch services for small satellites and will continue to take advantage of the latest in small launch technologies.”
“Congratulations to the entire government and industry team on another successful launch for our NRO partner,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise. “I am very pleased with the active and continued engagement by Lt. Col. Rose’s team with the small launch community that continues to foster and develop new innovative launch capabilities all the while remaining focused on mission success.”
Mission information, including photos are available on the NRO, SMC, NASA Wallops, and Northrop Grumman Corporation website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter sites.
Original news item…
The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center have successfully completed the Flight Readiness Review and remain on track to launch the National Reconnaissance Office Launch (NROL)-111 mission on June 15, 2021, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0B at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
This mission is managed by SMC Launch Enterprise’s Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) and was awarded under the Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP)-3 Lane 1 capability.
“We look forward to the launch of NROL-111 for our NRO customer,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Small Launch and Targets Division. “This will be our third U.S. Space Force mission and the second Minotaur NRO mission from Wallops. As the U.S. Space Force looks to the future of the nation’s defense, small launch missions will continue to serve as pathfinders to build up the industrial base in support of the DoD’s needs. We look forward to continuing to launch national priority satellites for our NRO partner.”
Rose is responsible for the launch service that includes range support, launch vehicle integration, space vehicle interface and mating, and the launch service for this important mission.
The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Space Force’s 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.