US: A National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) military payload rode into orbit atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. Liftoff of the NROL-33 mission from Cape Canaveral took place from Space Launch Complex -41 (SLC-41). Denver-based United Launch Alliance conducted the launch on behalf of the NRO, the Chantilly, Virginia-based federal agency responsible for the design, construction and operation of the country’s network of intelligence-gathering spy satellites. Because the NRO mission is classified, very few details about the launch or the payload’s purpose are publicly released. The mission went into a media blackout shortly after its successful liftoff.
“Today’s launch occurred six days after last week’s GPS 2F-6 launch — the second time this year that this team has launched back-to-back missions within a week. Successfully launching at this tempo is a testament to the team’s focus on mission success, one-launch-at-a-time, and continuous improvement of our launch processes,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for the Atlas and Delta programmes. ULA’s next launch, scheduled for July 1, will loft NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite atop a Delta 2 rocket. Two more ULA launches are on the manifest for July: a Delta 4 carrying two satellites for the Air Force’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program is slated for July 23, and an Atlas 5 carrying the GPS 2-F7 satellite is slated for July 31.
Source: Space news