ULA Delta IV launching NROL-70 satellite for National Reconnaissance Office (photo courtesy ULA).

ULA Delta IV launching NROL-70 satellite for National Reconnaissance Office (photo courtesy ULA).

Launch operator ULA launched the NROL-70 satellite for National Reconnaissance Office on a Delta IV Heavy rocket on April 9th 2024 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA. The launch marked the end of the Delta era and initiates the future of heavy lift on ULA’s next generation Vulcan rocket.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), part of the United States Intelligence Community and an agency within the Department of Defense, is responsible for designing, building, launching, and operating the U.S. federal government’s reconnaissance satellites. It provides satellite intelligence to various government agencies, including signals intelligence (SIGINT) to the NSA, imagery intelligence (IMINT) to the NGA, and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) to the DIA. In 2023, the NRO announced plans to quadruple its satellite fleet and increase the volume of signals and images delivered by a factor of ten over the next decade.

Alongside the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the NRO is considered one of the ‘big five’ U.S. intelligence agencies. It is headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia, approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Washington Dulles International Airport.

Launch Company United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. ULA was founded in December 2006 by combining the teams at these companies that provided spacecraft launch services to the government of the United States. U.S. government launch customers included the Department of Defense and NASA, as well as other organizations. With ULA, Lockheed and Boeing held a monopoly on military launches for more than a decade, until the US Air Force awarded a GPS satellite contract to SpaceX in 2016.

Launch Company United Launch Alliance (ULA) has 3,400 employees working at sites across the USA. Program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located in Decatur in Alabama and Harlingen in Texas. ULA’s launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.