A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V successfully launched NROL-38, a classified US government satellite, into orbit on from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 20 June. The launch marks the 50th evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) to fly.

"Twelve of the 50 EELV launches have been National Reconnaissance Office [NRO] missions and these have been vital to our overall mission of delivering on commitments critical to our national security," says Bruce Carlson, director of the NRO. "I thank and congratulate ULA and the EELV program for the tremendous performance and achievement of this very impressive and noteworthy milestone."

The launch vehicle flew in 401 configuration, with a 4m payload fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single RL-10 engine in the Centaur upper stage.

The launch was delayed from 18 June after an environmental control system duct failed, requiring that the vehicle be rolled away from the launch pad for repair.

The 51st EELV launch, A ULA Delta IV-Heavy from Cape Canaveral, is scheduled to launch another classified NRO satellite on 28 June.

 Atlas V NROL-38

 ©United Launch Alliance


Source: Flight International