SMC and mission partners celebrate successful launch of Delta IV with NROL-45 spacecraft
By James Spellman, Jr., Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published February 10, 2016
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE - EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) rocket successfully delivered a satellite to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office early Wednesday after lifting off from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, located on California's Central Coast. The mission's emblem on the payload fairing featured the silhouette of a military working dog sitting beside two soldiers kneeling at a memorial to a fallen comrade and the line, "For those who have given all, we remember."
In a message shared with all personnel at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, summarized the accomplishment.
"In addition to the successful Atlas V launch last Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying our GPS IIF-12 satellite, this morning at 3:40 a.m., teams from SMC, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance, the Aerospace Corporation, 14th Air Force and our other mission partners successfully launched a Delta IV out of Vandenberg AFB and successfully deployed the NROL-45 spacecraft into its intended orbit," said Greaves. "Simply stated, this is another bright indication of the great work performed by all here at SMC. Congratulations to all of us on the second successful space launch this calendar year!"
Aided by a pair of side-mounted solid rocket motors and a liquid hydrogen-fueled RS-68 main engine, the 217-foot-tall orange and white two-stage Delta IV lifted off from SLC-6 under more than a million pounds of thrust. As the vehicle arced towards the southwest, it treated some early-morning risers and dedicated "bird watchers" throughout southern California to a spectacular view.
"This morning's launch from Vandenberg AFB was very nice, which I viewed from Marina del Rey," stated Craig Rogers, a senior programmer analyst at the University of Southern California. "This was the clearest night sky I can remember here. I was able to track the rocket and payload by binoculars for a good 12 minutes after launch. I saw the solid rocket boosters separate and tumble. I saw the vehicle grow dimmer when the fairing was jettisoned. I was able to continue tracking it until it started to dip below the horizon."
Wednesday's pre-dawn launch was the first for the Delta IV since its successful deployment of a Wideband Global Satcom spacecraft last July, a program managed by SMC. It also marked the 31st flight of the Delta IV launch vehicle and the rocket's sixth mission from Vandenberg under the direction of the 4th Space Launch Squadron and 30th Space Wing. Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority.
"This was an incredibly important launch for the 30th Space Wing and our mission partners," said Moss. "The entire team, which included the 30th Space Wing, the 4th Space Launch Squadron, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance, and numerous other agencies, worked hand-in-hand to ensure this launch was safe and successful. It was a tremendous effort by all involved."
The next Delta IV launch from SLC-6 is scheduled for autumn 2017.
Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.