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United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches National Defense Mission

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 20, 2010 - 
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) successfully lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 East here at 9:03 p.m. PDT today. The mission was in support of national defense.

This mission marked the third Atlas V from the west coast in program history. The inaugural Atlas V launch from Vandenberg occurred March 13, 2008, and the second occurred on Oct. 18, 2009. Twenty additional Atlas V launches have taken place from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., since 2002.

"This is a proud moment for United Launch Alliance knowing this launch is providing our brave men and women fighting for our nation the space assets they need to defend America," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "I want to thank our NRO customer for entrusting ULA with the responsibility to launch this important mission. I'd also like to recognize all the team members, including our government mission partners and suppliers from around the country and around the world, who worked tirelessly to successfully launch today's mission. Their professionalism and attention to detail have made this significant launch possible."

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 501 using a 5.4-meter diameter, 77 foot long, Ruag composite payload fairing. The mission was powered by a single common core booster using the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and a Centaur upper stage using a single Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL-10A engine.

ULA's next launch, currently scheduled for Oct. 19, is a Delta IV Heavy NRO mission in support of national defense from Space Launch Complex-37 at CCAFS, Fla.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly, and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Texas, and San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

For more information on the ULA joint venture, visit the ULA Web site at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).