Celebrating Past Delta IV Heavy NRO Launches

Next week's NROL-44 launch continues the Delta IV Heavy rocket's service to U.S. national security.

Image credit: ULA

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. When the United States needs eyes and ears in critical places where no human can reach – be it over the most rugged terrain or through the most hostile territory – it turns to the NRO. The NRO is the U.S. government agency tasked with designing, building, launching and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites. Whether creating the latest innovations in satellite technology, contracting with the most cost-efficient industrial suppliers, conducting rigorous launch schedules, or providing the highest-quality products to our customers, the NRO never loses focus on who they are working to protect: our nation and its citizens. Beginning in 1961 to declassification to the public in 1992, the NRO has worked tirelessly to provide the best reconnaissance support possible to the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense.

The partnership between ULA and the National Reconnaissance Office has featured seven launches of the heavy-performance rocket on NRO missions. This thread will look back at highlights of each launch!


NROL-26

The first Delta IV Heavy for the NRO successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on Jan. 17, 2009. NROL-26 culminated years of hard work and dedication by the combined U.S. government and ULA team to perform a Heavy mission on behalf of the NRO.


NROL-32

The second Delta IV Heavy for the National Reconnaissance office was NROL-32 on Nov. 21, 2010. The triple-barrel rocket is formed by strapping three common booster cores (CBCs) together, adding a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS) and encapsulating the payload in a 5-meter fairing.


NROL-49

The first Delta IV Heavy launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was NROL-49 on Jan. 20, 2011. Standing 233 feet tall and 53 feet wide, it was the largest rocket ever launched from the West Coast of the United States.


NROL-15

The inaugural flight of RS-68A engines to increase the power of Delta IV Heavy occurred on June 29, 2012 with the NROL-15 mission. The RS-68A engine on each common booster core consumes nearly 2,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen per second.


NROL-65

All Delta IV Heavy rockets are built in Alabama and use engines manufactured in California and Florida, just like the one that performed the second West Coast mission, NROL-65, on Aug. 28, 2013.


NROL-37

The National Reconnaissance Office NROL-37 mission was launched on June 11, 2016 using a Delta IV Heavy. Each Heavy rocket has 8 fuel tanks, 4 engines and is loaded with nearly 470,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for liftoff.


NROL-71

The most recent Delta IV Heavy successfully launched the NROL-71 mission from Vandenberg on Jan. 19, 2019. Heavy rockets weigh approximately 1.6 million pounds and generate 2.1 million pounds of thrust at launch.


NROL-44

ULA is honored to launch NROL-44 for the National Reconnaissance Office using a Delta IV Heavy rocket on Wednesday at 2:16 a.m. EDT (0616 UTC) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will be our 8th Heavy launch for the NRO.


DELTA IV HEAVY TO LAUNCH NROL-44

Rocket: Delta IV Heavy • Mission: NROL-44 • Launch Date: Aug. 26, with a launch time of 2:16 a.m. EDT • Launch Period: The launch period on Aug. 26 is from 1:50 to 6:25 a.m. EDT • Launch Location: Space Launch Complex-37, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.


Mission Information: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket will launch the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.


Launch Notes: This will be 141st mission for United Launch Alliance and our 29th for the NRO. It is the 385th Delta launch since 1960, the 12th Delta IV Heavy and the 8th Heavy for the NRO.


Source: ULA