WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. – A rocket carrying a classified payload launched from Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Wednesday morning.
The Minotaur IV rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) blasted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s (MARS) Pad 0B on Wallops Island.
The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Program provided the launch services for the mission.
The mission, named NROL-129, was the first USSF mission from Wallops Flight Facility and the NRO’s first dedicated launch from Wallops.
This was the first Minotaur mission from Wallops since 2013 and the second orbital launch from the MARS launch pads in 2020. The 2013 launch was famous for a frog that was photographed being blasted away from the launch pad at liftoff.
The 78-foot tall Minotaur IV launch vehicle, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, consists of three solid-fueled motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper ICBMs and a commercial solid rocket upper stage. Minotaur rockets have been launched from Wallops for nearly 14 years.
The NRO is the Intelligence Community element and a Department of Defense agency responsible for developing, acquiring, launching and operating America’s intelligence satellites to meet the national security needs of the nation.