ULA successfully launches secret NROL-101 mission

United Launch Alliance successfully launched their Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida yesterday evening carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.


NROL-101 Liftoff // Photo: ULA

This Atlas V launch wasn't like the previous ones this year, the solid rocket boosters are the new Northrop Grumman Epoxy Motors (GEM), which will be used on their later Vulcan rocket, which is currenty under development with its inaugural launch being July of next year. ULA's Vulcan rocket is a 2 stage rocket, with Blue Origin's BE-4 engines powering the first stage alongside Northrup Grumman's GEM motors. The plan for Vulcan is to phase out Atlas and Delta so they only have a single vehicle with multiple varients being manufactured, increasing efficiency and lowering production costs.



Lifting off from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at 5:32pm EST, this was the 86th launch of the Atlas V and their 141st successful mission, continuing ULA's 100% success rate.