NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia supported the launch of a Minotaur I rocket on June 15, 2021, at 9:35 a.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0B on Wallops Island.
The rocket carried three national security payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise provided the launch services for this mission. The launch vehicle was built and operated by Northrop Grumman.
“Wallops was pleased to partner with NRO, USSF, Virginia Space and Northrop Grumman in the successful launch today of the Minotaur 1 rocket on this national security mission,” said Wallops Director, David Pierce. “This launch builds on the partnership developed during the past year with other successful missions.”
This mission, named NROL-111, was the third small launch USSF mission and the NRO’s second dedicated launch from Wallops in the last 12 months.
“NRO cannot do its job without this team because launch is absolutely a team sport,” said Col. Chad Davis, director, NRO’s Office of Space Launch. “Our mission is exciting because we deliver exquisite intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities on orbit for our national and allied warfighters as well as our national decision makers.”
“Congratulations to the entire government and industry team on the U.S. Space Force’s third successful launch from NASA Wallops Flight Facility” stated Lt. Col Ryan Rose, chief of the Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division. “As the Space Force looks to the future of the nation’s defense, these small launch missions will continue to build up the industrial base in support of our NRO partner’s and DoD’s needs.”
The NRO is the Intelligence Community element and a Department of Defense agency responsible for developing, acquiring, launching, and operating America’s intelligence satellites to meet the national security needs of the nation.
The 69-foot tall Minotaur I launch vehicle consists of two solid-fueled motors from decommissioned Minuteman ICBMs as the lower stages and two solid-fueled commercial solid rocket motors as upper stages.
The next launch from Wallops is a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket carrying the RockOn! educational payload. The launch is targeted for Thursday, June 24.