Rocket Lab has announced its first mission of 2020 – a dedicated launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Their workhorse Electron rocket, launching from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, will loft the classified NROL-151 satellite to an unknown orbit. The mission was awarded by the NRO as part of their Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) program, with the goal of increasing the amount of small-lift launch providers they can choose from.
This mission will be Rocket Lab’s first launch for the NRO. The mission was nicknamed “Birds of a Feather”, likely referencing the Kiwi and Eagle, the national birds of the two involved countries.
Due to the classified nature of this launch, very few details have been made public. NROL-151’s purpose, orbit, size, and other specifications are unknown.
We're excited to announce that our first mission of 2020 is a dedicated launch from LC-1 for the @NatReconOfc! The 14-day launch window opens from 31 Jan UTC. Full details: https://t.co/R1DFalvyCq pic.twitter.com/betmiKLYxr
— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) January 20, 2020
NROL-151 has a 14-day launch window, stretching from January 31 to February 13. Each day will have a four-hour window, from 0:00-4:00 UTC (7:00PM-11:00PM EST). Electron will ...