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Air Force, NRO & ULA teams launch NROL-61

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense.  (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense.  (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense.  (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense.  (ULA photo)

An Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS' Space Launch Complex-41 July 28 at 8:37 a.m. EDT. Designated NROL-61, the mission is in support of national defense. (ULA photo)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The U.S. Air Force and its government/corporate successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 vehicle with a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, July 28.

“This successful launch is a testament to the teamwork among a group of professionals who continue to focus on mission success . The Atlas V 421 launch vehicle provides critical spacelift capability to support the Department of Defense, as well as other National Security missions," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for Space. “Congratulations to the NROL-61 integrated team and all mission partners on a successful launch.”

The launch service for the Atlas V 421 vehicle was purchased by the Space and Missile Systems Center.   First used in 2007, this Atlas vehicle configuration successfully launched the first and second Wideband Global SATCOM satellites, the EchoStar G1 satellite, and NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission.  

This marks the 53rd Atlas V launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida.

SMC 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.