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NRO Launches First National Security Mission Onboard Rocket Lab Spacecraft; Chris Scolese Quoted

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The National Reconnaissance Office’s first national security payload was launched to orbit onboard a Rocket Lab spacecraft as part of the agency’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket program.

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket carrying the NROL-162 mission lifted off from the company’s launch complex in New Zealand, NRO said Wednesday.

NROL-162 is the first of the two national security missions Rocket Lab is contracted to send to space for the agency under the RASR contract. The second mission called NROL-199 is scheduled for launch aboard the Electron vehicle on July 22.

NRO developed the twin missions in collaboration with the Australian defense department to expand the U.S. space-based intelligence collection capabilities.

“This collaboration with Australia bolsters our partnership and strengthens the foundation for future coordination as we work to secure and expand our intelligence advantage in a competitive space environment,” said NRO Director Chris Scolese, a three-time Wash100 Award recipient. 

The agency will use the NROL-162 mission to provide a wide range of information to national
decision-makers and intelligence analysts.

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