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Vandenberg’s fifth Atlas V launch scheduled

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  • By 010712
Team Vandenberg is scheduled to launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-3 here Aug. 2 at 12:40 a.m. Vandenberg's 4th Space Launch Squadron is in final preparations for launch with Vandenberg's mission partners from ULA, the Aerospace Corporation, Space and Missile Systems Center and the NRO.

This launch will include auxiliary payloads, which are a first for the NRO and any Atlas V mission.

ULA redesigned the Atlas V upper stage pressure system to provide more volume and structural capacity in the upper stage to accommodate the auxiliary payloads. The NRO and ULA partnered to develop an Aft Bulkhead Carrier, which will be used for this mission. Affixed to the ABC will be an Operationally Unique Technologies Satellite. The OUTSat consists of 11 Cubesats in various configurations. The Cubesats that will be launched on this mission are sponsored by the NRO Mission Support Directorate and NASA's Launch Support Program and were developed by a number of laboratories, universities and government entities. The Cubesats will demonstrate technologies, conduct scientific experiments and prove operational concepts.

Atlas V is part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle family. The program began in the 1990s with the goal of making government space launches more affordable and reliable and resulted in the development of two launch systems, Delta IV and Atlas V, both operated from Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The 4th SLS was formed in 1994 to support Titan missions at Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-4, then re-chartered in 2003 to operate the Atlas V and Delta IV launch systems. Today, the squadron executes Western Range Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle spacelift operations with a combined team of engineers, space operators, program managers and missile maintenance technicians. The squadron's core competencies include mission assurance, launch campaign integration, system sustainment and launch operations, each of which is critical to the safe and successful launch of The United States' newest spacecraft.

"This is really all about the team effort that's been going on for the last year," said Lt. Col. Daniel Gillen, 4th SLS commander. "What I've really come to appreciate is how large this team is and how well everyone has been working together ... everyone. Not only just the guys I work with in the launch group but also across the wing."
Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-3 has a long launch history dating to its first Atlas-Agena mission in 1966.

This event marks the fifth Atlas V mission for Vandenberg and the 606th overall Atlas mission in U.S. history.


Note to Editors:
Media planning to cover the event should RSVP by calling 1st. Lt. Austin Fallin at 805-606-6159 or by e-mail at by noon Aug. 1. A media escort will depart the Vandenberg Main Gate Visitor's Center for the media viewing site Aug. 2 at midnight.

Remote Camera Set-up: A media escort will depart Vandenberg's South Base gate for remote camera set-up Aug. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

For questions about the booster please contact Jessica Rye with United Launch Alliance at 321-693-6250 or at