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NASA launches rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virgina

This mission was the first mission from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and the NRO’s first dedicated launch from Wallops, NASA said.
Credit: AP
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Saturday, carrying candy and cheese to satisfy the astronauts' cravings. (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA has successfully launched a Minotaur IV rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on Wednesday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 

This mission, named NROL-129, was the first USSF mission from Wallops Flight Facility and the NRO’s first dedicated launch from Wallops, NASA said in a news release.

NASA said the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Program provided the launch services for this mission. 

The launch was streamed live on the Wallops YouTube channel.

“Today’s successful launch exemplifies NASA’s proud service to NRO and the nation and I want to thank GSFC/WFF employees and all our partners for their hard work in a very dynamic 2020," Wallops director David Pierce, said. "We look forward to working with NRO, USSF, Virginia Space, and Northrop Grumman on future missions from Wallops.”

Unfortunately, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops was not open to this mission.

The rocket was successfully launched at 9:46 a.m. after a delay to get boats away from the launch zone.

This mission was a bit different. This 78-foot tall rocket, built by Northrup Grumman, was sending a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO is the U.S. Government agency in charge of the United States intelligence satellites.

The rocket carried four classified payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Program provided the launch services for this mission. 

The launch vehicle was built and operated by Northrop Grumman.

NROL-129 is the first Minotaur mission from Wallops since 2013 and the second orbital launch from the MARS launch pads in 2020. Minotaur rockets have been launched from Wallops for nearly 14 years.

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