ULA successfully launches NRO mission on Delta 4 Heavy

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WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket launched June 11 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The launch went into a news blackout typical for NRO missions several minutes after its 1:51 pm Eastern liftoff.

The NRO, a federal agency based in Chantilly, Virginia, is responsible for the design, construction and operation of the United States’ network of intelligence-gathering spy satellites. Because NRO missions are largely classified, the intelligence agency has not released any details about the mission, known as NROL-37.

Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and chief executive officer, confirmed the success of the mission on Twitter at 7:36 p.m. by tweeting “107,” a reference to the number of consecutive launches the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture has completed since its inception.

The launch marked the first use of ULA’s Delta 4 Heavy rocket since December 2014, when it lifted for the Orion Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission for NASA.