Team Vandenberg successfully launched the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-3 here Friday, Dec. 12, at 7:19 p.m. PDT.
Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority.
“This launch was an incredible achievement for Team Vandenberg, ULA, NRO and our other fellow launch partners,” said Balts. “This Atlas V launch marked the last of the year and I am very proud of the teamwork that led to the success of not only today’s launch, but those that preceded. The hard work and dedication of everyone involved continues to ensure our nation’s access to space. This was especially evident by our base electricians who worked tirelessly through last night’s extreme weather to ensure power was available for launch.”
This is the most powerful Atlas V rocket launched from Vandenberg because it has four solid rocket boosters, producing approximately 250,000 pounds of thrust per solid rocket. These four solids along with the main engine of the Atlas V produced a total thrust around 2 million pounds at liftoff!
“This has been an exciting mission” said 1st Lt. Adam Rich, Lead Atlas V Engineer for the 4th Space Launch Squadron. “Not only is it the first use of four solid rocket boosters on an Atlas here at Vandenberg, but it is also the first launch a new second stage engine design.”
The 4th SLS has been working alongside ULA since September to make sure this launch goes off successfully. The Atlas V first stage booster landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard the Antanov AV-124. After all the rocket components arrive here at Vandenberg, they go through a receipt inspection and are then transported to the pad for stacking in an operation known as Launch Vehicle on Stand. Since LVOS, engineers and technicians have been working around the clock to complete all the installations, system checkouts, and tests necessary for launch.
Source:: Air Force Space Command