A Northrop Grumman Minotaur IV rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia today (July 15), carrying the NROL-129 mission to orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. Continue reading on Space.com
A Northrop Grumman Minotaur IV rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virginia today (July 15) at 9:46 a.m. EDT (1346 GMT), carrying the NROL-129 mission to orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Space Force.
The NRO develops and operates the nation’s fleet of spy satellites, the activities of which are generally classified. So we don’t know exactly what the NROL-129 spacecraft will be doing up there, or even what their final orbital destinations are.
“NROL-129 supports NRO’s overall national security mission to provide intelligence data to United States senior policy makers, the intelligence community and Department of Defense,” NRO officials wrote in the mission’s press kit.
The Minotaur IV stands 78 feet (24 meters) tall and consists of four stages. The lower three stages are powered by solid rocket motors sourced from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. The fourth stage features Northrop Grumman’s Orion 38 motor.