ULA’s Atlas rocket launching Sitentbarker/NROL-107 satellite for USSF and NRO (photo courtesy of ULA).

ULA’s Atlas rocket launching Sitentbarker/NROL-107 satellite for USSF and NRO (photo courtesy of ULA).

ULA’s Atlas rocket launching Sitentbarker/NROL-107 satellite, a classified collaboration between the U.S. Air Force (USSF) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The launch took place from the SLC-41 launch complex at Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. This was ULA’s 98th launch for the NRO.

A joint NRO and Space Force Space Domain Awareness (SDA) mission, SILENTBARKER/NROL107 meets the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community (IC) space protection needs by providing the capability to search, detect and track objects from a space-based sensor for timely custody and event detection. Surveillance from space augments and overcomes existing ground sensor limitations with timely 24-hour above-the-weather collection of satellite metric data only possible with a space-based sensor and then communicates its findings to satellite operators, analysts, and other mission users.

The NRO and the USSF have a shared interest to strengthen the nation’s SDA and Indication & Warning (I&W) capabilities to enable timely decision making and unity of effort to defend the DoD and IC critical capabilities against current and projected threats. SILENTBARKER/NROL107 will strengthen the NRO’s ability to provide a wide range of timely intelligence information to national decision makers, warfighters and intelligence analysts to protect the nation’s vital interests and support humanitarian efforts worldwide.

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.

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.

ULA is using three expendable launch systems, Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas V. The Atlas and Delta launch vehicles have been used for more than 50 years and launched approximately 1,300 missions to carry a variety of payloads including weather-, communication- and national security satellites, as well as deep space and interplanetary exploration missions in support of scientific research. ULA also provides launch services for non-government satellites: Lockheed Martin retains the rights to market Atlas commercially.