Rocket Lab delays US spy satellite launch over software updates

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Barely weeks after the successful launch of its first US spy satellite, American firm Rocket Lab has delayed its second satellite launch due to software updates

On July 13, Rocket Lab delivered NROL-162 to orbit for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which operates the nation’s fleet of spy satellites.

But the next mission NROL-199 scheduled for launch on July 22 has been put on hold, Rocket Lab announced on Twitter.

The announcement came after the NRO on Twitter mentioned about “software updates for NROL-199”.

“NRO is currently implementing payload software updates for NROL-199. As soon as the updates are implemented, NRO and @RocketLab will provide a new launch date for NROL-199,” the NRO officials wrote on the microblogging site.

In reply, Rocket Lab said: “We adapt to ever-changing mission requirements”.

“Operating our own launch site gives our customers maximum flexibility on launch timing. We’ll be ready to launch when you are, @natreconofc!”.

The company, however, did not update on when the new launch date will be announced.

The NROL-162 and NROL-199 missions aimed to carry national security payloads designed, built, and operated by the NRO in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence as part of a broad range of cooperative satellite activities with Australia.

The satellites will support the NRO to provide critical information to government agencies and decision makers monitoring international issues.

Besides NROL-162, Rocket Lab sent three payloads aloft for the spy agency in June 2020. It also sent NRO’s classified NROL-151 satellite to space in January 2020.

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