The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched a second mission, in less than a month, from New Zealand aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Launch Complex-1 at Mahia Peninsula Aug. 4, 2022 at 1 a.m. EDT (5 a.m. UTC). NROL-199 is the second of two missions in 2022 in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence (AUS DoD) and follows NROL-162, which launched from Mahia Peninsula July 13. The NROL-162 and NROL-199 missions demonstrate NRO’s capability to launch multiple rockets from overseas locations within weeks of one another. This speed and agility are critical as NRO innovates faster working with government partners to keep the world safe and secure. NRO worked closely with New Zealand Space Agency, which licensed the launch, and Rocket Lab as the launch provider.
“NRO has a long legacy of innovation, and launching two missions in less than one month from an overseas location is yet another example of our progress,” said Col. Chad Davis, NRO’s director of the Office of Space Launch. “We are pushing boundaries to ensure we are making the most efficient and effective use of our resources.”
“NRO places high priority on partnerships, and these launches reflect the strength of our relationships with Australia and New Zealand,” said NRO Director Dr. Chris Scolese. “Not only are we working together to launch these satellites, we will all benefit from the critical data they collect and deliver. This is an opportunity to build a foundation for even greater collaboration in the future.”
NROL-162 and NROL-199 launch services were acquired using NRO’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract. RASR enables NRO to explore new opportunities for launching small satellites through a streamlined, commercial approach. NROL-162 and NROL-199 were NRO’s third and fourth launches from a Rocket Lab Electron rocket and from New Zealand. The previous Electron launches occurred Jan. 31, 2020 with the NROL-151 mission, and June 13, 2020 with the RASR-2 launch. Since 1961, NRO has pushed the envelope of U.S. space-based intelligence information collection with boldness and ingenuity. NROL-162 and 199 will strengthen NRO’s ability to provide a wide-range of timely intelligence information to national decision makers and intelligence analysts to protect the nation’s vital interests and support humanitarian efforts worldwide.
The NRO is a member of the United States Intelligence Community and an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense which designs, builds, launches, and operates the reconnaissance satellites of the U.S. federal government, and provides satellite intelligence to several government agencies, particularly signals intelligence (SIGINT) to the NSA, imagery intelligence (IMINT) to the NGA, and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) to the DIA. NRO is considered, along with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), to be one of the “big five” U.S. intelligence agencies. The Director of the NRO reports to both the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense. The NRO’s federal workforce is a hybrid organization consisting of some 3,000 personnel including NRO cadre, Air Force, Army, CIA, NGA, NSA, Navy and US Space Force personnel.