A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 here at 5:58 p.m. EST today. Designated NROL-32, the mission is in support of national defense.
This was the fourth Delta IV Heavy launch and the 351st launch overall in Delta program history. A Delta IV Heavy demonstration flight occurred in December 2004, the first Air Force operational Heavy mission was launched in November 2007, and the first NRO Delta IV Heavy launch occurred in January 2009. This launch completes ULA's launch schedule for 2010 in which the company launched eight missions including four Atlas V launches, one Delta II launch, and three Delta IV launches including today's Delta IV Heavy.
"This second Delta IV Heavy launch for the NRO is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the combined NRO, Air Force, supplier, and ULA team," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "ULA is pleased to support the NRO as it protects our nation's security and supports our warriors defending our nation around the world. This launch also tops off another exceptional year for ULA. We are proud to have launched 45 missions in 48 months since our inception Dec. 1st, 2006."
The ULA Delta IV Heavy vehicle featured a center common booster core with two strap-on common booster cores. Each common booster core was powered by the RS-68 cryogenic engine. An RL10B-2 cryogenic engine powered the second stage. Both engines are built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The payload was encased by a 5-meter diameter (16.7-foot diameter) aluminum, tri-sector payload fairing. ULA constructed the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala.
Related Research on ASDReports.com: