Air Force Marks 50th Successful EELV Launch

The Air Force and its industry partners successfully launched a National Reconnaissance Office payload into space on June 20. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried the classified payload aloft from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. “This morning’s flawless launch is the product of many months of hard work and collaboration of government and industry teams,” said Col. James Fisher, director of NRO’s space launch office, in NRO’s release. He added, “We hit it out of the park again as we continue to deliver superior vigilance from above for the nation.” This mission, NROL-38, was doubly significant because it was the Air Force’s 50th successful launch of a national security payload aboard an evolved expendable launch vehicle, according to an Air Force Space Command release. “We are proud of this launch success record, an amazing record in the history of space flight,” said Gen. William Shelton, AFSPC commander. EELVs include ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. They launch from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (See also AFPS report by Amaani Lyle.)