A rocket carrying a national intelligence satellite successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base Monday afternoon. Santa Barbara County residents could see the rocket propel through the sky just past 1:45 p.m.
The mission, carried out by the United Launch Alliance, serves the National Reconnaissance Office, which uses satellites to inform National Security, policy makers and war fighters.
The rocket, a Delta IV Heavy, has a 100% success rate untarnished by Monday’s launch. It is the 13th launch of the model.
The Delta IV Heavy is ULA’s most powerful rocket and weighs 1.6 million pounds fully fueled before burning 1,945 pounds of fuel each second as it travels upward.
“The unmatched power of the Delta IV Heavy again demonstrated its role as the nation’s proven heavy lift vehicle precisely delivering this critical NRO asset to its intended orbit,” Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs, said in a news release. “We are honored to support National Security space and thank our mission partners for their continued trust and teamwork.”
The NRO is approaching its 60th anniversary, and a logo commemorating the office’s history was displayed on the rocket.
“Today’s NROL-82 mission launch represents not just years of planning and collaboration for the specific mission but a six-decade legacy of innovation and reconnaissance,” Michael Suk, NRO historian, said in the launch broadcast.
The launch also honored brave individuals.
Another logo on the rocket depicts Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a WWII fighter pilot honored with a purple heart.
“This logo was designed to commemorate the many heroic acts and sacrifices that have been made to protect America,” Caroline Kirk, a systems engineer at ULA, said.
Mission director Chad Davis dedicated the launch to late NRO team members as well as the “frontline workers who have been vital to the fight against COVID-19.”
He honored Lisa Wilson, who supported and directed missions for 32 years.
“Lisa’s achievements are to be remembered as an example of service for the freedoms we stand for,” Mr. Davis said.
He also acknowledges Ross Kobayashi “who for 25 years had been part of the OSO mission assurance team responsible for the assessment of launch vehicle risks and the success of over 50 national launches across the Titan, Alpha and Delta launch systems.
The mission went as expected, according to ULA’s broadcast.