Press Release

ULA Successfully Launches Fifth NRO Mission in Seven Months

By SpaceRef Editor
April 15, 2011
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Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., (April 14, 2011) – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 here at 9:24 p.m. PDT today. Designated NROL-34, the mission is in support of national defense.

Today marked the 25th Atlas V rocket launch in program history. The first Atlas V launched in August 2002. Since then, Atlas V has launched a variety of payloads for the military, NASA, and commercial customers, all successfully.

“Today’s successful launch of the NROL-34 mission represents a tremendous accomplishment for our national security customer,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. “Less than two years ago, this integrated team put in place a very challenging plan to launch five EELV/NRO missions in less than seven months. The combined NRO Office of Space Launch, U.S. Air Force Launch & Range and ULA teams have executed this plan flawlessly, culminating in today’s successful launch aboard our 25th Atlas V rocket. With each of these incredibly important launches, we are reminded of the role we play in offering enhanced effectiveness and safety to the men and women protecting our country. Congratulations to the ULA team and our government, mission, and supplier partners for making these five successful NRO missions possible.”

This mission was launched by an Atlas V 411 configuration launch vehicle, which uses a single common core booster powered by the RD-180 engine and one solid rocket motor. This was the fourth launch of 2011 for ULA, including two for the NRO and one for the United States Air Force.

ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-1 mission currently scheduled for May 6 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Tex. and San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

For more information on the ULA joint venture, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).


Jill Altenhofen, (303) 269-5551 (Office), (720) 352-6874 (Cell)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (April 14, 2011) – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at 9:24 p.m. PDT with the National Reconnaissance Office’s L-34 payload. This was the 25th launch of the Atlas V rocket since the vehicle’s first launch in August 2002. NROL-34 is also the fifth ULA launch for the NRO in the past seven months. The mission is in support of national security. Photo by Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance.

SpaceRef staff editor.