The United Launch Alliance (ULA) press release is reproduced below:
United Launch Alliance Joint Venture Completes First Launch
ULA Demonstrates Commitment to Mission Assurance with Delta II West Coast Liftoff for NRO Customer
Denver, Colo., Dec. 14, 2006 – A Delta II expendable launch vehicle successfully launched today a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), marking the first mission completed by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) since its formation Dec. 1, 2006.
The Delta II rocket carrying NROL-21 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2-West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Following a nominal 58-minute flight, the rocket deployed the payload.
“The United Launch Alliance team is proud and honored to complete this first mission for our government customer,” said Michael C. Gass, president and chief executive officer of ULA. “Today we begin a new era in assured access to space. This is the first ULA Delta launch, but it’s the 322nd Delta launch since the first one in 1960. ULA continues two highly successful American launch lines that between them have flown more than 850 times. We are committed to sustaining this outstanding record of reliability, only more effectively and affordably as the two lines are integrated over time.”
The ULA Delta II 7920-10 configuration vehicle used for today’s mission featured a ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and nine Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket boosters. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. The configuration features a ten-foot-diameter payload fairing.
“In 2006, there were six Delta II, three Delta IV and two Atlas V missions, all successful,” said Dan Collins, ULA chief operating officer. “We have an equally challenging manifest in 2007 with a total of 21 launches planned, consisting of a dozen Delta IIs, six Atlas Vs and three Delta IVs from the East and West Coasts. It’s a tall order, but this team is up to the task. Our focus on mission success will get the job done.”
Formed in 2006, ULA combines the successful Atlas and Delta expendable launch vehicle programs to offer cost-effective and reliable launch services to U.S. government customers, including the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and other organizations. ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala. and Harlingen, Tex. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Source: ULA Press Release