Spaceflight Insider

After hiatus, ULA to launch two rockets in June

The sixth Atlas V 551 lifts of from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida with MUOS-4. Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

An archive photo of ULA’s Atlas V 551 rocket launching the fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4). MUOS-5 is scheduled to launch atop an Atlas V of the same configuration in late June.
Photo Credit: Jared Haworth / SpaceFlight Insider

After a two month hiatus, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is ready to resume launches from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) with a Delta IV mission on June 4 from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 37.

The launch, a classified mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), dubbed NROL-37, will be the first use of the Delta IV Heavy configuration since the December 5, 2014, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) launch of Lockheed Martin‘s Orion capsule on a test flight for NASA.

Next week’s launch will be the 32nd Delta IV mission since the vehicle was placed into service in November 2002. It will also be the 10th NRO mission to launch on a Delta IV.

The launch on June 4 will be ULA’s first flight since the March 22, 2016, Atlas V launch of Orbital ATK‘s Cygnus spacecraft on an International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission (OA-6).

While the Atlas V successfully delivered Cygnus to the intended orbit, it did suffer a premature first stage engine (RD-180) shutoff that required a longer Centaur upper stage burn to compensate.

As a result of the OA-6 launch anomaly, ULA temporarily suspended all Atlas V flights to allow for analysis, testing, and engine inspection.

ULA is now satisfied that it has rectified the Atlas V problem (an issue with the engine Mixture Ratio Control Valve (MRCV)) and will follow up next week’s Delta IV launch with the flight of an Atlas V on June 24—the launch of the U.S. Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite from SLC-41.

The MUOS network of satellites provides secure cellular-based voice, video, and data communications for mobile military forces.

The June 24 launch will mark the 63rd Atlas V flight since the vehicle was placed into service in August 2002.


Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

⚠ Commenting Rules

Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *