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News | Oct. 12, 2022

Rocket lifts with DLA Energy Aerospace propellants

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

Three booster tanks filled with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants supplied by Defense Logistics Agency Energy Aerospace successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Sept. 24.

Together, the three tanks delivered more than 705,000 pounds of thrust at sea level. 

The rocket carried a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO is an Intelligence Community and Department of Defense agency responsible for developing, acquiring, launching and operating America’s reconnaissance satellites, as well as operating associated data processing facilities in support of national security. 

Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Hale is the site commander of NRO Vandenberg and worked closely with DLA Energy Aerospace on the launch. 

“We carry high expectations for our mission partners in helping to reduce technical and schedule risks to our launch campaigns,” Hale said. “Under DLA's leadership, the NROL-91 launch campaign commodity support was uneventfully easy - and perfectly how we prefer it. DLA - thank you for the excellent mission focus and support!”

DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Supplier Division provides the cradle-to-grave contracting support and award of government contracts for supplying sufficient liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to launch satellites and rockets. 

United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launching
Rocket lifts with DLA Energy Aerospace propellants
Three booster tanks filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants supplied by Defense Logistics Agency Energy Aerospace launched a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Sept. 24. DLA Energy Aerospace provided 470,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the first and second stage boosters, and 340 pounds of hypergolic propellants for the second stage booster enabling it to place the NRO satellite into the correct orbit. Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance
Photo By: JEFF SPOTTS
VIRIN: 220924-D-D0441-600

“A great deal of planning goes into this,” said Doug Smith, director of DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Supplier Division. “We have long term contracts in place but because the Delta IV Heavy uses so much product, we have to be prepared for contingencies to include potential scrubs.  Trucks are lined up to replenish, and staged, ready for the initial resupply.”

Supporting space launches is a shared responsibility with the DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Customer Facing Division. They are responsible for consolidating customer requirements, managing customer orders and arranging the transportation services for the space fuels.

“There are commodities meetings that DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Customer Operations and mine go to prior to the launch to make sure all is good from all of our commodities (we provide hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen to this one,” Smith added.

Steve Nichols is the director of DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Customer Operations. He works hand in hand with whole of government aerospace customers including the U.S. Space Force, NASA, and NRO to ensure their objectives are met.

“DLA Energy Aerospace provided 470,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the first and second stage boosters, and 340 pounds of hypergolic propellants for the second stage booster enabling it to place the NRO satellite into the correct orbit,” Nichols said. 

Vandenberg Space Force Base in California is the home of the Space Launch Complex-6, the West Coast home of the Delta IV rocket. The stages of the rocket are assembled on site and then rolled to the pad for attachment of the payload, final testing and the countdown. The next DLA Energy Aerospace supported event is planned for an Atlas V launch at Vandenberg Nov. 1.