The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has successfully completed its final launch of 2020, NROL-108, C4ISRNet reported on Monday. During the launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NRO used a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to transport NROL-108.
“We are excited to partner with SpaceX again,” NRO principal deputy director Troy Meink said. “The successful launch of NROL-108 by SpaceX just days after the launch of NROL-44 by United Launch Alliance, underscores NRO’s commitment to a robust launch schedule supported by a growing number of partners and locations.”
This was NRO’s second dedicated launch with SpaceX, with the first taking place with NROL-76 in May 2017. NRO did not disclose details of the payload’s mission or capabilities.
“Data collected by NRO’s national security systems are used to provide intelligence to United States’ senior policy makers, the intelligence community and Department of Defense, as well as U.S. allied partners,” the agency stated. “Additionally, information collected by NRO systems can be used to assist emergency and disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.”
Throughout the year, NRO has partnered with four different launch providers and five different types of rocket to launch its payloads into orbit. During the agency’s first launch, NRO used an Electron rocket from Rocket Lab. The company also launched the second payload for NRO in June 2020.
In July, NRO partnered with Northrop Grumman, using the Minotaur IV rocket for a mission. More recently, NRO partnered with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for two missions: first in Nov. 2020 with an Atlas V rocket, and then again in Dec. 2020 with a Delta IV rocket.
“Despite the challenges of 2020, NRO this year has successfully launched six missions from two countries. We are dedicated to delivering reconnaissance capabilities that keep this nation and our allies safe, while prioritizing the security and health of our launch teams,” said Meink.