NRO sheds light on operations, mission

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The National Reconnaissance Office at Vandenberg hosted a Mission Partner Day and welcomed Team Vandenberg members to take a peek into the once highly classified office.

Mission Partner Day started with lunch and included tours of a building that houses different transporters used to move satellites. There were also tours of Space Launch Complex three and six provided by the 4th Space Launch Squadron, and a brief history overview and mission statement by NRO Vandenberg commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Steele.

NROV has been an active player in national security from Vandenberg since being activated in 1992 as a detachment of the Air Force Office of Special Projects.

According to the official NRO website, NRO develops and operates unique and innovative space reconnaissance systems and conducts intelligence-related activities essential for United States National Security.

Although Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is capable of launching satellites into polar orbit, "Vandenberg is our nation's premier polar orbit launch site," Colonel Steele said.

Polar orbit capabilities include not only reconnaissance but also general surveillance, targeting and assessment and keeping tabs on chemical and biological agreements.

"The men and women that work at NRO Vandenberg directly support the national security of the United States and its allies by providing 100 percent mission success in launching reconnaissance satellites into orbit," Colonel Steele said.

The service of NRO Vandenberg played a major role in the demise of the former Soviet Union, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and U.S. victories in the war on terrorism, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo and the Cold War.

Not only does NRO take pride in the success of missions, they are also proud of the technological advances brought about with their help. NRO was involved in the development of a way to give pilots a satellite picture in their cockpit allowing a more precise targeting system.

Even with the weight of global reconnaissance on its shoulders, NRO Vandenberg still takes the time to educate Team Vandenberg members on its mission and thank everyone for their help and continuous support. That is why Mission Partners Day is important to NROV.

"Without the members of Vandenberg AFB, none of this would be possible," said Chuck Brackin, Aerospace Corporation Technical Support to the Director of Engineering.