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  • Satellite Evolution

Space Systems Command prepares to launch National Reconnaissance Office mission


The US Space Force’s (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are preparing to launch a Delta IV Heavy rocket no earlier than (NET) April 20, 2023, from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 37B at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida.


“Everything’s looking great and we’re on track to launch another vitally important national security capability into space,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer for Assured Access to Space (AATS). “This will be our third national security launch this year. We’ve worked alongside ULA to prepare this Delta IV Heavy, and in just a few days the team’s hard work will culminate in this highly anticipated launch. These launches place critical capabilities into orbit for our nation and our allies in what are dynamic times for the space community. Every member of our launch team understands what’s at stake and works with care and efficiency to prepare for what’s going to be a tremendous launch.”


To date, the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) has launched a total of 37 Delta IVs, comprised of 25 Mediums and 12 Heavy variants of which the NRO was 5 Mediums and 10 Heavy (this will be the 11th). NSSL Mediums began launching in 2006 and completed in 2019. NSSL has only two remaining Delta IV Heavy launches procured under the Launch Vehicle Production Services (LVPS) contract.


Following this launch, the final Delta IV Heavy is projected to launch from CCSFS in 2024. This is the first NSSL Delta IV Heavy launch in 2023 and the 13th NSSL Delta IV Heavy to date. Additionally, this will be the 10th Delta IV Heavy vehicle launched from CCSFS, Florida (two NASA and eight NSSL missions –of which seven with NRO) for a total of 15 Delta IV Heavy vehicles successfully placed into orbit to date.

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