Spaceflight Insider

Launch of NROL-42 delayed due to faulty battery

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NROL-67 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 (AV-072) rocket tasked with carrying the classified NROL-42 mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has been delayed 48 hours to no earlier than 05:30 UTC Sept. 24. The cause of the delay was announced as a faulty battery on the launch vehicle. 

With the extra day, the team will now change out the battery and work to get the launch vehicle and its clandestine payload off of the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 3 East (SLC-3E) in California.

Relatively speaking, this has been a light year in terms of launches from Colorado-based ULA, with NROL-42 marking only the sixth flight of 2017. Since the company’s inception in 2006, it has completed 121 flights, 25 of those for the NRO.

Another secretive launch is also possibly in the works to take place from the U.S.’ East Coast about a week after NROL-42 flies. The NROL-52 mission is also being flown by ULA on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office.

The Atlas V, a workhorse of ULA’s fleet, has flown some 73 times since the launch vehicle’s inaugural mission on August 21, 2002.



Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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