Delta IV Medium, NROL-45 – launched, injected, operating !

Today ULA put into orbit classified payload for National Reconnaissance Office on atop of their Delta IV rocket.

From Vandenberg AFS Launch Pad 6, at 11:40 GMT on atop ULA Delta IV new special, secret payload was lifted into space. United Launch Alliance decided to utilize Delta IV in medium variant also described as Delta 4 Medium+ (5,2); in this configuration rocket is equipped with cryogenic upper stage and five-meter nose cone. It is supported by two solid fueled strap-on boosters (GEM-60 booster is equipped with single engine fueled with 29700 kg of HTPB and able to provide thrust at 826.6 kN). First stage weight is 226400 kg, height is 36.6 m and diameter is 5.1 m. It is equipped with one RS-68A engine, which is giving 3140 kN of thrust and is fueled with LH2/LOX propellant. Second cryogenic stage, called DCSS, is designed to be used in two versions - first with 4 m and second with 5 m payload fairing. Smaller version weighs 24170 kg and larger weighs 30700 kg; both are powered with liquid fueled RL-10-B-2 engine ( LH2/LOX with propellant mass at 27000kg or 28000 kg depending on mission), which is giving 110 kN of thrust. Version used today, with 5 m fairing, is long for 13.7 m with weight at 30550 kg and diameter at 5.1 m.

According to some sources, codename NROL-45 covers new radar satellite FIA Radar-4, (Topaz-4). FIA stands for Future Imagery Architecture - it is one of most advanced system utilizing for reconnaissance radar and imaging reconnaissance satellites. It was designed to operate on two types of satellites FIA-R (radar imaging satellites like Topaz) and FIA-O (optical imaging). Due the some problems with main contractor (Boeing) FIA-O part of the program was cancelled after only six years of development due the cost overruns in 2005. FIA-O was contracted again to main competitor of Boeing, Lockheed Martin; FIA-R satellites were developed as scheduled and still were contracted for Boeing. First Topaz satellite manufactured by Boeing was launched on 21 September 2010 on atop of Atlas V rocket. In further years next two Topaz satellites were launched, on 3 April 2012 and 6 December 2013. Satellites were placed on slightly elliptical orbit with apogee at 1100 km, perigee at 1105 km and inclination at 123°.

On February 11, 2016, it was confirmed that satellite launched during NROL-45 is operating nominally.