CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. --
The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s successful launch of the NROL-76 spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center May 1 at 7:15 a.m. ET.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is carrying a classified national security payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. This will be SpaceX’s first launch for the NRO.
This launch marked the third launch to use the Autonomous Flight Safety System and the fourth successful landing of the Falcon 9 first stage booster on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at CCAFS. AFSS takes ground-based mission flight control personnel and equipment out of the control center and replaces it with on-board Positioning, Navigation and Timing sources and decision logic. The benefits of AFSS include increased public safety, reduced reliance on range infrastructure, reduced range spacelift cost, increased schedule predictability and availability, operational flexibility, and launch site flexibility.
The Falcon 9 NROL-76 launch was the seventh major launch operation for the Eastern Range this year. Before any launch can blast off from the range, a dedicated team of military, government civilians and contractors from across the wing provide the mission assurance to ensure a safe and successful lift-off for range customers.
“Assured access to space is a team sport here on the Eastern Range."
"We continue to play a vital role in assuring access to space and this launch demonstrates our capability to keep up the pace as we move closer to our goal of 48 launches a year,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander. “It takes less than a minute to get a rocket safely out of our atmosphere, but this launch was the culmination of many long hours and preparation though a series of rigorous rehearsals, readiness reviews and pre-operational checkouts. This mission once again clearly demonstrates the successful collaboration we have with our mission partners at NRO and SpaceX as we continue to shape the future of America’s space operations and showcase why the 45th Space Wing is the ‘World's Premiere Gateway to Space.’”