Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket Carrying ORS-1 Satellite for the U.S. Air Force
- Flight Extends Perfect Launch Record of Minotaur Rockets to 21 Consecutive Missions -
(Dulles, VA 30 June 2011) -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced today that its Minotaur I rocket successfully launched the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space Office’s ORS-1 satellite. The mission originated yesterday evening, June 29, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. At approximately 11:09 p.m. EDT, the rocket’s first stage ignited, beginning its flight into low-Earth orbit. Following the flight of the four-stage rocket, the ORS-1 spacecraft was deployed into its intended orbit.
Yesterday’s mission was the 21st mission for the Minotaur program since its first launch in 2000, all of which have been successful. It was also the fourth Minotaur I launch from the MARS facility, following the TacSat-2, NFIRE and TacSat-3missions conducted from the Eastern Virginia launch site in 2006, 2007 and 2009, respectively. Including the ORS-1 mission, Minotaur I rockets have deployed a total of 33 satellites into orbit. The overall launch service and management for the Minotaur I vehicle was provided by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM.
“We are very pleased with the results of this evening’s flight of the Minotaur I rocket, and are proud to be able to support the Department of Defense’s important work in the area of Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) systems,” said Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group. “Following this successful launch, our Minotaur launch team’s focus will shift to the Minotaur IV vehicle, which is scheduled to conduct two launches later this year, including the HTV-2b mission for DARPA and the TacSat-4 mission for the Air Force.”
The ORS-1 satellite is the Operationally Responsive Space Office’s first operational prototype spacecraft. Its rapid development and deployment is an important step toward demonstrating the capability to meet emerging and persistent warfighter needs on operationally relevant timelines.
About Orbital’s Minotaur Product Line
Orbital’s Minotaur product line was developed under the U.S. Air Force’s Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP). The initial five-year OSP contract was awarded to Orbital in 1997, while the follow-on 10-year OSP-2 contract was received in 2003. The Minotaur I space launch vehicle is the original member of Orbital’s Minotaur product line, which includes both space launch vehicles and long-range suborbital vehicles for missile defense and other specialized missions.
Minotaur vehicles are the only proven launchers currently capable of supporting the Department of Defense’s evolving ORS launch requirements and are also specifically designed to be capable of launching from all major U.S. spaceports, including government and commercial launch sites in Alaska, California, Florida and Virginia. All Minotaur rockets share standardized avionics and subsystems, mature industrial processes and experienced personnel to make them reliable and cost effective.
The Minotaur I space launch configuration combines Orbital’s commercial launch vehicle technologies, including upper stage rocket motors, structures, avionics and other elements, with government-supplied lower-stage rocket motors to create responsive, reliable and low-cost launch systems for U.S. Government-sponsored spacecraft. It can place up to 1,300 lbs. into low-Earth orbit.
In addition to the Minotaur I space booster, Orbital’s Minotaur product line also includes:
• Minotaur II - A three-stage suborbital rocket used as a target vehicle for testing U.S. missile defense systems and related missions;
• Minotaur III - A three-stage suborbital rocket, Minotaur III can deliver suborbital technology demonstration payloads of up to 6,500 lbs. or serve as a target vehicle for testing U.S. missile defense systems and similar missions;
• Minotaur IV - Introduced and flown three times in 2010, the Minotaur IV is a heavier-lift four-stage space launch vehicle using retired Peacekeeper rocket motors, capable of launching U.S. Government-sponsored satellites weighing up to 3,800 lbs. into low-altitude orbit; and
• Minotaur V - An enhanced-performance version of the Minotaur IV space launch vehicle that will be used to launch Government satellites into higher-energy orbits for missions related to space exploration and other activities beyond low-Earth orbit. The first launch of the Minotaur V is NASA’s LADEE lunar mission in 2013.
Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories.
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