The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is proud to partner with SpaceX on our second launch aboard a Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The NROL-108 mission will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and carry a national security payload designed, built and operated by the agency. NROL-108 supports NRO’s overall national security mission to provide intelligence data to the United States’ senior policy makers, the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense.

NROL-108 Mission Emblem

About the Mission Emblem

The NROL-108 mission patch shows a gorilla beating its chest in front of a green background with the tagline “Peace Through Strength”. The NRO chose this theme because gorillas are peaceful animals but can be fierce when necessary. Like the gorilla, this mission is constantly vigilant and ready to defend its own, demonstrating NRO’s commitment to protecting U.S. warfighters, interests, and allies.

Launch Vehicle

Falcon 9

Space X logo Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit.


Made of a carbon composite material, the fairing protects satellites on their way to orbit. The fairing is jettisoned approximately three minutes into flight, and SpaceX continues to recover fairings for reuse on future missions.

First Stage

Falcon 9’s first stage incorporates nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocketgrade kerosene (RP-1) propellant, generating more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level. After separation, the fist stage will return to Landing Zone 4.


The interstage is a composite structure that connects the first and second stages, and houses the pneumatic pushers that allow the first and second stage to separate during flight.

Grid fins: Falcon 9 is equipped with four hypersonic grid fins positioned at the base of the interstage. They orient the rocket during reentry by moving the center of pressure.

Second Stage

Powered by a single Merlin Vacuum Engine, the second stage delivers Falcon 9’s payload to the desired orbit. The engine ignites a few seconds after stage separation, and can be restarted several times to place multiple payloads into different orbits.

Site Info

Launch Complex 39A

NROL-108 will launch from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. Originally constructed in the 1960s, LC-39A was the launch site for 11 Saturn V Apollo missions, including Apollo 11, the first Moon landing. The pad was also the launch site for 82 space shuttle missions, including the first shuttle launch, the final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope, and the final shuttle mission. After the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA began the process of transforming KSC from a historically government-only launch facility into a multi-user spaceport for both government and commercial use. In 2014, SpaceX signed a property agreement with NASA for use and operation of the launch complex for 20 years. SpaceX has since modified the facility to meet its needs, including building a horizontal processing hangar at the base of the pad to perform final vehicle integration. The first SpaceX launch from the pad was the CRS-10 mission for NASA launched on a Falcon 9 on Feb. 19, 2017.

Falcon 9 Illustration

Ready to launch your career?

Join our talented and diverse workforce today.

Explore Job Opportunities
National Reconnaissance Office - Above and Beyond