Press Release

U.S. Space Force successfully launches NRO payload aboard Minotaur I rocket

By SpaceRef Editor
June 15, 2021
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The U.S. Space Force successfully launched a classified payload today for the National Reconnaissance Office 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.

“I am thrilled with today’s successful launch for our NRO mission partner, and look forward to future missions with Northrop Grumman,” stated 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.”

Today’s launch signifies the fourth successful launch mission in less than a month that the Small Launch and Targets Division supported.

“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.

The 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.