The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was proud to partner with United Launch Alliance (ULA) on our ninth launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. The NROL-82 mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and carried a national security payload designed, built and operated by the agency. NROL-82 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. This was our 31st launch in partnership with ULA, alongside other mission partners at the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center and the 30th Space Wing.

NROL-82 Mission Emblem

About the Mission Emblem

The NROL-82 mission patch was designed to commemorate the many heroic acts and sacrifices made to protect our way of life. The NROL-82 logo depicts an eagle, America’s symbol of freedom, wearing the traditional flight gear of a WWII Fighter Ace, specifically Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. In the background you will find an F4U Corsair, Boyington’s aircraft, and the three stars on the patch honor those who have served, are serving, or will serve to preserve America’s way of life. The Latin phrase, TACITAE LIBERTATIS CUSTODEMQUE, ties the logo together in its translation: Silent Guardians of Freedom. To read more about the logo inspiration, visit our social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Launch Vehicle

Delta IV Heavy

United Launch Alliance logo United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy is a heavy-lift launch vehicle, the largest type of the Delta IV family and one of the world’s most powerful rockets. The Delta IV Heavy configuration is comprised of a common booster core (CBC), a cryogenic upper stage and a 5-meter diameter payload fairing (PLF). The Delta IV Heavy employs two additional CBCs as liquid rocket boosters to augment the first-stage CBC. The Delta IV Heavy can lift 28,370 kg (62,540 lbs) to low Earth orbit and 13,810 kg (30,440 lbs) to geostationary transfer orbit. It is an all liquid-fueled rocket, consisting of an upper stage, one main booster and two strap-on boosters.

Payload Fairing (PLF)

The PLF encapsulates the spacecraft to protect it from the launch environment on ascent. The 19.2-m (63-ft) long PLF makes the vehicle’s height approximately 71.0 m (233 ft).

Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS)

The DCSS is a cryogenic liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen fueled vehicle, with a single RL10C-2-1 engine that produces 110.1 kilo-Newtons (24,750 lbs) of thrust.


The Delta IV booster propulsion is provided by three liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen-burning RS-68A engines. Each RS-68A engine produces 312.3 kilo-Newtons (705,250 lbs) of thrust for a combined total liftoff thrust of more than 2.1 million pounds.

Delta 4 Heavy Illustration

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National Reconnaissance Office - Above and Beyond