Tag Archives: United Launch Alliance (ULA)

Missile Warning Satellite

Following a successful launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida earlier on May 18, 2021, the U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 4 operations team is now «talking» with the fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO-5) satellite.

SBIRS GEO-5
Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS GEO-5 missile warning spacecraft is the first military space satellite built on a modernized LM 2100 Combat Bus space vehicle

As planned, SBIRS GEO-5 – built by Lockheed Martin – is responding to the Delta’s commands. Signal acquisition was confirmed approximately ~36 minutes after the satellite’s 1:37 p.m. EDT launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. Now separated from the rocket, the satellite is continuing on to orbit under its own propulsion.

SBIRS GEO-5 is the latest satellite to join the Space Force’s orbiting Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) missile warning constellation equipped with powerful scanning and staring surveillance sensors. These 24-7, always-on, orbital guardians detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.

«The world is a more threatening place now with more than 1,000 ballistic missile launches occurring globally every year», said Tom McCormick, vice president of Lockheed Martin Space’s OPIR Mission Area. «SBIRS is the tip of the missile defense spear, seeing all those missiles and providing our military the ability to ensure our national security and the safety of our armed forces».

 

Faster, More Resilient Missile Warning

Built in about five years, SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military space satellite built on an LM 2100 Combat Bus, a version of Lockheed Martin’s modernized, modular LM 2100 space vehicle with greatly enhanced resiliency.

The LM 2100 bus is the result of a Lockheed Martin internally-funded, multi-year modernization initiative. Features include:

  • Greater resiliency and cyber-hardening;
  • Enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics;
  • Common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing;
  • Flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernized sensor suites.

«We designed our modernized LM2100 bus with our military customers’ changing, more-contested environment, in mind», said McCormick. «By adding enhanced resiliency features to the LM 2100 we created an initial ‘combat bus’ for the Space Force for even greater capability».

SBIRS GEO-5 is a step toward achieving the resilient missile warning to be provided by SBIRS’ follow on, the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 System. SBIRS GEO-6, launching in 2022, and the first three Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites, as well as the future GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, are also based on the LM 2100 Combat Bus.

Lockheed Martin is proud to be part of the SBIRS team led by the Production Corps, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Division, at the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman, Azusa, California, as the payload integrator.

National Security

Northrop Grumman Corporation supported yesterday’s successful launch of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV heavy rocket. The rocket launched a national security payload, designated NROL-82, for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of a national defense mission.

Delta IV Heavy
Integrated Northrop Grumman launch vehicle products support the successful launch of a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical NRO payload on April 26, 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (Photo credit: United Launch Alliance)

«The successful launch of this Delta IV rocket demonstrates the reliability of our large composite aerospace structures», said Wendy Williams, vice president, aerospace structures, Northrop Grumman. «We play a vital role with the NRO and ULA, as we have for decades, by providing key launch vehicle structures and propulsion and control subsystems in support of national security missions».

The largest of the Delta IV family, and the largest rocket in the U.S. fleet, the heavy version features three common booster cores mounted together to form a triple-body rocket.

Northrop Grumman’s contributions to the ULA Delta IV heavy rocket include 11 key large composite structures including three thermal shields that house and protect the engines during flight; three centerbody structures that connect the Liquid OXygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) tanks; the payload fairing that provides protection to the payload; the composite interstage on the center common booster core; the nose cones on the two strap-on boosters and one set of X-panel structures that connect the upper stage LOX tank with the upper stage hydrogen tank. The large-scale composite structures measure four to five meters in diameter and range from one to 15 meters/49.2 feet in length. Northrop Grumman produced them all using advanced hand layup, machining and inspection techniques at the company’s manufacturing facility in Iuka, Mississippi.

Other Northrop Grumman products integrated on the ULA Delta IV heavy launch vehicle include four booster separation rocket motors for the launch vehicle manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s Rocket City, West Virginia facility. The motors ignite when the two side-mounted common core stage burns are complete to assist booster separation from the center core.

Northrop Grumman also designed and produced the nozzles for the three Aerojet-Rocketdyne RS-68 engines, as well as the nozzles’ innovative thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding them from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit/2204.4 degrees Celsius. Northrop Grumman manufactured the nozzle at its Promontory, Utah facility.

Additionally, the company manufactured the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system at its Commerce, California facility.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 97,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

First Qualification Test

Northrop Grumman Corporation conducted its first ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter/160-centimeter-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) on August 13, 2020 in Promontory, Utah. This variation of the company’s GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur vehicle.

Northrop Grumman conducted the first test of its GEM 63XL rocket motor to serve the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur on August 13 at its Promontory, Utah, facility

«Our new GEM 63XL motors leverage its flight-proven heritage while utilizing state-of-the-art manufacturing technology to enhance launch vehicle heavy-lift capabilities», said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. «The GEM 63XL increases thrust and performance by 15-20 percent compared to a standard GEM 63».

During today’s static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds/203,663 kg of thrust to qualify the motor’s internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a cold-conditioned environment. This test demonstrated materials and technologies similar to the GEM 63 rocket motor that qualified for flight in October 2019.

Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019 with 100 percent success. The first flight of the GEM 63 motors will be on a ULA Atlas V launch vehicle planned for fourth quarter 2020, and GEM 63XL motors will support the Vulcan rocket in 2021.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

The GEM 63XL motor being prepared for static test firing in a Test Area test bay

The sixth flight

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 501 rocket carrying the United States Space Force-7 (USSF-7) mission for the U.S. Space Force lifted off on May 17, 9:14 a.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41. This marks the 84th successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 139th launch for ULA, the second launch for the U.S. Space Force and the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches the Sixth Orbital Test Vehicle for the U.S. Space Force

«The success of this mission resulted from collaboration with our customer while working through challenging, and ever changing, health and safety conditions», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. «We were honored to partner with the U.S. Space Force to dedicate this mission to first responders, front-line workers, and those affected by COVID-19. It is truly a unique time in our history and I want to thank the entire team for their continued dedication and focus on mission success».

Along with OTV-6, this mission deployed FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to conduct experiments on orbit. The mission also carried two NASA experiments, including a material sample plate to determine the results of radiation and other space effects on various materials, and an experiment which will assess space effects on seeds used to grow food. Another experiment sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory will examine the ability to transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could be transmitted to the ground.

This mission launched aboard an Atlas V 501 configuration rocket that included a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

ULA’s next launch is NASA’s Mars 2020 mission carrying the Perseverance rover on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for July 17 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

To date ULA has a track record of 100% mission success with 139 successful launches.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully launched more than 135 missions to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

Anywhere, Anytime

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on March 26 at 4:18 p.m. EDT. This marks the 83rd successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 138th launch for ULA and first mission for the U.S. Space Force.

Lockheed Martin’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) protected communications satellite is encapsulated in its protective fairings (Photo credit: United Launch Alliance)

The AEHF-6 satellite will bring additional capabilities and resilience to the constellation which already ensures «always-on» communications and the ability to transmit data anywhere, anytime. Once on orbit, AEHF-6 will complete the constellation, as well as mark the first launch under U.S. Space Force control. AEHF-6 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket in an Atlas V 551 configuration.

«While this is the final AEHF satellite launch, it really brings the constellation to full strength, capability and truly marks the beginning of the AEHF system’s full lifecycle», said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin. «Still, it is a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, knowing this is our last launch for the AEHF program. Myself, as well as all of the employees who have supported the program at Lockheed Martin are incredibly grateful for our continued partnership with the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center».

AEHF-6 is part of the AEHF system – a resilient satellite constellation providing global coverage and a sophisticated ground control system. Together the constellation provides survivable, protected communications capabilities for national leaders and tactical warfighters operating across ground, sea and air platforms. The anti-jam system also serves international allies to include Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and now Australia.

Lockheed Martin developed and manufactured AEHF-6 at its satellite production facility located in Sunnyvale, California. In January, the satellite shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station courtesy of a Super Galaxy C-5 aircraft from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the AEHF system, and the AEHF team is led by the Production Corps, Medium Earth Orbit Division, at the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

National Security

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) denoted NROL-71 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on January 19 at 11:10 a.m. PST. The mission is in support of our country’s national defense.

United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security
United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security

«Congratulations to our team and mission partners for successfully delivering this critical asset to support national security missions», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, «thank you to the entire team for their perseverance, ongoing dedication and focus on 100% mission success».

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Air Force and NASA. With its advanced upper stage, the Delta IV Heavy can take more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.

The mission launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, comprised of three common booster cores each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

NROL-71 is ULA’s first launch in 2019 and 132nd successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the WGS-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force on a Delta IV rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 13, 2019 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

Parker Solar Probe

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. NASA selected ULA’s Delta IV Heavy for its unique ability to deliver the necessary energy to begin the Parker Solar Probe’s journey to the sun.

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft
United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office. With its advanced cryogenic upper stage, Delta IV Heavy can deliver more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.

«The unique requirements of this mission made the Delta IV Heavy the perfect launch vehicle to deliver Parker Solar Probe into orbit with the highest precision», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. «Congratulations to our team and mission partners, we are proud to launch this exceptional spacecraft that will provide invaluable scientific information benefiting all of humankind».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, which is comprised of three common core boosters each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds/952,544 kg of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. Due to the extremely high energy required for this mission, the Delta IV Heavy’s capability was enhanced by a powerful third stage provided by Northrop Grumman.

This was the 37th launch of the Delta IV rocket, and the 10th in the Heavy configuration. It also marks ULA’s sixth launch in 2018 and the 129th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the ICESat-2 mission for NASA on what will be the final Delta II mission. The launch is scheduled for September 15 at Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Mission for the USAF

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-11 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on April 14 at 7:13 p.m. EDT. AFSPC-11 is a multi-payload mission. The forward payload is referred to as CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) and the aft spacecraft is EAGLE (EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) Augmented Geosynchronous Experiment).

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the AFSPC-11 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on April 14, 2018. AFSPC-11 is a multi-manifested mission. The forward spacecraft is referred to as CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) and the aft spacecraft is EAGLE (ESPA Augmented GEO Laboratory Experiment).
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the AFSPC-11 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on April 14, 2018. AFSPC-11 is a multi-manifested mission. The forward spacecraft is referred to as CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) and the aft spacecraft is EAGLE (ESPA Augmented GEO Laboratory Experiment).

«Today’s launch is a testament to why the ULA team continually serves as our nation’s most reliable and successful launch provider for our nation’s most critical space assets», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. «I want to thank the entire ULA team, and the phenomenal teamwork of our mission partners».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter/16.4-foot large Payload Fairing (PLF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the five AJ-60A Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) and RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

This is the 77th launch of the Atlas V rocket, ULA’s 4th launch in 2018 and the 127th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the InSight mission for NASA on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for May 5 at Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the Nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

The Air Force's AFSPC-11 mission, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to its United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-41 (Photo credit: United Launch Alliance)
The Air Force’s AFSPC-11 mission, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to its United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41 (Photo credit: United Launch Alliance)

Missile Warning

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on January 19 at 7:48 p.m. EST. SBIRS is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, and is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands.

An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 (ULA/Jeff Spotts)
An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 (ULA/Jeff Spotts)

«Meeting the challenge of launching two critical national security missions from opposite coasts within a week, the entire ULA team once again demonstrated its unwavering dedication to 100% mission success», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «Thank you to our U.S. Air Force and industry teammates for their outstanding partnership in successfully delivering SBIRS to orbit today».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 411 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter Payload Fairing (PLF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the AJ-60A Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) and RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

This is the 75th launch of the Atlas V rocket, ULA’s 2nd launch in 2018 and the 125th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

ULA’s next launch is the GOES-S mission for NASA and NOAA on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 1 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 4 Launch Highlights

 

The U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite, built at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing factory, was encapsulated on January 9
The U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite, built at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing factory, was encapsulated on January 9

Classified spacecraft

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on January 12 at 2:11 p.m. PST. Designated NROL-47, the mission is in support of national defense.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6

«As the nation’s most trustworthy launch provider, today’s launch exemplifies ULA’s ongoing commitment to 100 percent mission success», said Will Crawford, ULA’s NRO program manager. «My sincere thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners at the NRO and U.S. Air Force who made this, our 27th NRO launch, possible».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5, 2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core and two solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

This is ULA’s first launch in 2018 and the 124th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. It was also the 36th flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

ULA’s next launch is the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for Jan. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Delta IV NROL-47 Launch Highlights

The National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-47 payload, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-6
The National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-47 payload, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex-6