The Air Force said it successfully launched an Atlas V rocket into space March 13 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Onboard the space vehicle was a National Reconnaissance Office payload, according to Vandenberg’s release. The mission was the first Atlas V launch from Vandenberg; all previous Atlas V missions have been from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Col. Steve Tanous, commander of Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing, praised the “hard work and dedication” of the airmen and industry partners involved in the launch.. “I am very proud of the teamwork that led to the successful and historic Atlas V mission,” he said. To make operating Atlas Vs from Vandenberg possible, the Air Force significantly modified the base’s Space Launch Complex-3, which used to accommodate Atlas II boosters.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.