Space Coast, FL – Yesterday, United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched the Mighty Atlas V. The Atlas V rocket launched NROL-101. This Atlas V used for the very first time new GEM-63 SRBs (Solid Rocket Boosters), manufactured by Northrop Grumman.
Solid Rocket Boosters
The SRBs replaced Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AJ-60A solid rocket boosters. This was Northrop Grumman’s SRB debut and were a smaller version of the GEM-63XL SRBs. Which are slated to lift off with ULA’s next rocket, Vulcan.
NROL 101 and Rocket config
The launch marked ULA’s 141st mission success and 29th for the NRO. It is the 86th Atlas V launch and the 4th in the 531 configuration. If you were wondering what the 531 configuration means, well it’s simple. 5 is for the payload fairing as it’s 5 meters in diameter. 3 is for the amount of Solid Rocket Booster mated to the core stage. 1 is for the amount of engines in the second stage. In this case, 1 Centaur engine that ignites after 1st stage separation. Delivering the payload to it’s pre-designated orbit.
The NROL 101 mission took flight at 1732 EST on Friday the 13th of November 2020 from SLC-41 after a small delay from a ground systems LOx (Liquid Oxygen) valve issue. CEO, Tory Bruno declared the mission success soon after with his famous digit only tweet,
141— Tory Bruno (@torybruno) November 14, 2020
On to the next mission for ULA, NROL-44 aboard the Delta IV Heavy, currently TBD. We’ll be watching out for the one closely. Stayed tuned in on our Launch Schedule page for upcoming launches.
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