CubeSats and satellite launch complete for National Reconnaissance Office

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launched a classified satellite, designated NROL-55, and 13 Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE) CubeSats in support of national defense.

The CubeSats and payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Nine CubeSats are sponsored by the NRO, while four are sponsored by NASA. They were mounted to the aft bulkhead carrier.

“The GRACE CubeSats will perform missions demonstrating tracking technologies, software-defined radio communications and will also conduct other measurements and experiments,” says Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “We are happy that ULA could play a part in bringing these nano-satellites to orbit along with the NRO payload through a cost-effective rideshare.”

Aerospace Corp., the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Center, Tyvak, SRI International, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Salish Kootenai College, AMSAT, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed the 13 CubeSats.

Read more on satellites:

Small satellites increasingly tapping COTS components

Radiation-tolerant FPGAs solve the satellite signal processing bottleneck

Software-defined radio (SDR) tech drives military communications today