Rocket Lab successfully launched a payload on Friday from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from its launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
The dedicated mission, named “Birds of a Feather,” was the first NRO mission ever launched outside of the United States. Rocket Lab is an American company based in California.
NRO awarded Rocket Lab the contract under its Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) program. RASR is focused on allowing the reconnaissance agency to explore the use of new launch vehicles on a streamlined, commercial basis.
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted that the first stage made it through the atmosphere and down to the ocean for the second time. The company will attempt to use a helicopter to catch a stage during descent on a future flight.
It was Rocket Lab’s first launch of 2020 and the 10th success in 11 launch attempts of Electron. The booster first flew in May 2017.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman will launch the NG-13 mission on February 9, 2020. The company’s Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus spacecraft from Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia with the 5-minute launch window opening at 5:39 p.m. ET.
Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-13 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. It is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. Major Lawrence was selected in honor of his prominent place in history as the first African-American astronaut.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., 20 January 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in small satellite launch, has announced today that it will launch a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The launch window is scheduled to open on 31 January NZDT and the mission, called ‘Birds of a Feather,’ will lift off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.
AeroCube 14’s experiments include nanotechnology payloads that will test new and emerging materials, including structural materials and thermal straps
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — The Aerospace Corporation’s AeroCube-14 CubeSats launched on Nov. 2 loaded with nanotechnology payloads to conduct modular experiments and other research.
AeroCube-14 consists of two identical 3-unit CubeSats that launched as part of the Northrop Grumman-12 Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station.
CHANTILLY, Va.. October 15, 2019 (NRO PR) – The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) today announced the transition of the Planet commercial imagery subscription service from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to the NRO.
As part of the transition, the NRO awarded Planet an unclassified, multi-year subscription service contract for daily, large-area, 3-5 meter resolution commercial imagery collection.
Recognizing the importance of mission continuity, the scope of the new NRO contract is comparable to NGA’s previous contracts with Planet and includes access to new daily unclassified imagery over multiple areas of interest to military planners, warfighters, and the national security community.
LOS ANGELES (DOD PR) — United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $98,549,235 firm-fixed-price contract for Atlas V Completion launch services.
This contract provides launch service completion for three National Security Space Launch Atlas V missions (two Air Force and one National Reconnaissance Office) previously ordered under contract FA8811-13-C-0003.
Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; Decatur, Alabama; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2020. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition.
Fiscal 2019 and 2020 procurement funds are being obligated at the time of award. The Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.
CHANTILLY, Va. (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced today the award of a commercial imagery study contract to HySpecIQ (www.hyspeciq.com). This award is the NRO’s first such award to a commercial hyperspectral imaging company and represents the latest milestone in the agency’s commercial imagery acquisition and integration strategy.
“HySpecIQ is developing interesting new hyperspectral imaging capabilities that have the potential to contribute to our current and future overhead architecture,”said Pete Muend, director of the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office.
LIVERMORE, Calif. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory PR) — The population of human-made satellites orbiting Earth has skyrocketed over the past 60 years. Launches nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and a significant contributor to this growth has been the development and implementation of small satellites that are easier and less expensive to build and more cost efficient to launch than conventional ones. Today, the hottest destination for these spacecraft is low-Earth orbit (LEO)—in the range of a few hundred kilometers above the planet’s surface.
The following statement can be attributed to Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX:
“SpaceX means to serve as the Air Force’s long-term provider for space launch, offering existing, certified and proven launch systems capable of carrying out the full spectrum of national security space launch missions and requirements.”
Overall, SpaceX’s mature, operationally proven Falcon launch system delivers significant flight heritage and is fully capable of reliably supporting Phase 2 National Security Space Launch missions.
Phase 2 presents an opportunity to utilize and expand this certified operational capability to support the full spectrum of national security space launch requirements, leveraging the years-long, close technical relationship between SpaceX and the USG Team. This collaboration has delivered mission success for critical national security payloads, including National Reconnaissance Office Launch 76 (NROL-76), Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5), Global Positioning System III-2 (GPS III-2), and STP-2.
SpaceX’s Falcon launch system is the only system offered for Phase 2 NSSL that is flying today and has already achieved national security space certification—SpaceX is clearly the lowest-risk solution for the Government to provide assured access to space on time and on budget.
The U.S. Air Force has awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) a contract modification worth $156.7 million for a Delta IV Heavy launch of a reconnaissance satellite in 2024.
“This modification provides for launch vehicle production services for National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Launch Mission Three, the last of three planned NRO launch missions under this contract,” USAF said in announcing the contract.
The modification increases the cumulative value of the contract for the three launches from $310,784,574 to $467,537,345. The $156.7 million is about half of what the third launch will cost.
The launch could be the final one for ULA’s Delta IV family of rockets. The company is phasing out use of the booster as it develops the Vulcan booster.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Morrow has been serving as Goddard’s deputy center director since
April 2015 and previously served as both director and deputy director of
the Flight Projects Directorate at Goddard. He began his career at
Goddard in 1983 as the Lead Spacecraft Battery Systems Engineer. He
holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the
University of Virginia and Masters of Engineering Administration degree
from George Washington University.
Scolese is leaving NASA after 32 years of service. He has served as
Goddard’s center director for seven years, before which he was the
agency’s associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington,
which included six months as acting NASA administrator in 2009.
Scolese’s career also included tenures as NASA chief engineer and
Goddard’s deputy center director.
Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists,
engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new
technology to study Earth, the Sun, our solar system and the universe.
Learn more about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at:
ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Space and Missile Systems Center, in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, released a request for proposals May 3, for the purpose of competitively awarding firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contracts to two domestic launch service providers. These “Launch Service Procurement” contracts are for National Security Space launch service procurements in fiscal year 2020 through 2024 for missions launching through 2027.
This solicitation strategy is a full and open competition allowing companies to compete for procurement contracts regardless of whether they have a current Launch Service Agreement development contract.
Christopher Scolese of New York, to be the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Mr. Scolese currently serves as the Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Previously, he served as the associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as NASA’s chief engineer.
Mr. Scolese is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Leadership Medal, the Goddard Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Capital Section Young Engineer/Scientist of the Year award.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., (Jan. 19, 2019) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) denoted NROL-71 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on Jan. 19 at 11:10 a.m. PST. The mission is in support of our country’s national defense.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. Jan. 5, 2019 (ULA PR) – The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission launch date is under review. A new launch date and time will be provided pending the results of additional testing.
“We continue to remedy the technical issues that caused the last scrub of the Delta IV Heavy, and are working with our partners, the National Reconnaissance Office and the U.S. Air Force, to ensure that we fly when it is safe to do so,” said Gary Wentz, vice president of Government and Commercial programs, “we understand that this is a high-priority mission for the nation’s warfighters and we take our commitment to safety and mission assurance seriously.”