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ULA’s Atlas V Rocket Launches NRO Security Payload; Gary Wentz Quoted

Gary Wentz VP ULA
Gary Wentz, VP, ULA

An Atlas V 531 rocket carrying a national security payload from the National Reconnaissance Office took off Nov. 13 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The NROL-101 mission marks Atlas V's 86th flight and the initial launch for Northrop Grumman's Graphite Epoxy Motors 63 solid rocket boosters, United Launch Alliance said Friday

GEM 63 burns solid fuel and can yield 371.5K pounds of maximum thrust to increase the RD-180 main engine's thrust power to nearly 1.8M pounds or 8M mega-Newtons.

"Thank you to our mission partners, the NRO and the United States Space Force for their continued confidence and partnership with ULA," said Gary Wentz, vice president of commercial and government programs at ULA.

Wentz added the company aims to build flight experience from the mission in preparation for the liftoff of the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.

ULA's NROL-44 mission, which was initially scheduled in August, will launch at an undisclosed date.

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Written by Matthew Nelson

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