United Launch Alliance has launched a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office via the company’s Delta IV Heavy rocket, following technical delays that have moved the launch date by months, Space.com reported Thursday.
NROL-44, a classified spacecraft, launched Friday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on a mission with undisclosed details.
Preparations for the liftoff began in summer 2019, with prelaunch testing done by January 2020. The launch, initially scheduled for Aug. 26, experienced multiple delays associated with the rocket’s sensors and the launch pad’s pneumatics control system.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10B-2 engine boosted the payload after the spacecraft’s separation from the rocket. The flight also marked ULA’s sixth launch this year.
The Delta IV Heavy is part of ULA’s Delta IV family of launch systems designed to send payloads from the U.S. Air Force, NRO and NASA to orbit. It has two more common booster cores to enhance the first-stage CBC, and can carry up to 14,500 lbs of payload to geosynchronous orbit.