Minotaur (rocket family)

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The Minotaur is a family of American solid fuel rockets derived from converted Minuteman and Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. They are built by Orbital Sciences Corporation via contract with the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Development and Test Directorate (SMC/SD) as part of the Air Force's Rocket Systems Launch Program which converts retired Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) into space and test launch systems for US Government Agencies.

Three variants of the Minotaur are currently in service. The Minotaur I is an orbital launch system used to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). The Minotaur II is a target launch vehicle (TLV), also known as Chimera, used for suborbital flights, often as a target for tracking and anti-ballistic missile tests. The Minotaur IV is a more capable LEO launch system. The Minotaur V, which is designed to reach higher orbits, including geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and trans-lunar trajectories. A version under development: the Minotaur III, which will also be used for suborbital flights. The Minotaur I and II are derived from the Minuteman missile, while the Minotaur III, IV and V are derived from the Peacekeeper.

Minotaur I

The original Minotaur launch vehicle, consisting of an M55A1 first stage, SR19 second stage, Orion 50XL third stage, Orion 38 fourth stage, and optional HAPS fifth stage for velocity trim and multiple payload deployment. Payload 580 kg to a 185 km, 28.5 degree orbit from Cape Canaveral; or 310 kg to a 740 km sun-synchronous orbit from Vandenberg.[1]

Minotaur II

A suborbital target vehicle, essentially consisting of a Minuteman II with Orbital guidance and control systems. Consists of M55A1 first stage, SR19 second stage, and M57 third stage. Payload 460 kg on 6700 km suborbital trajectory.[1]

Minotaur III

A suborbital target vehicle, consisting of an SR118 first stage, SR119 second stage, SR120 third stage, and Super HAPS fourth stage. Payload 3060 kg on a 6700 km suborbital trajectory.[1]

Minotaur IV

The Minotaur IV combines U.S Government-furnished solid rocket motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper ICBMs with technologies from other Orbital-built launch vehicles, including the Minotaur I, Pegasus, and Taurus. The Minotaur IV launch vehicle consists of an SR118 first stage, SR119 second stage, SR120 third stage, and Orion 38 fourth stage. Payload 1735 kg to a 185 km, 28.5 degree orbit from Cape Canaveral. The first Minotaur IV was launched April 22, 2010 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.[2][full citation needed] This vehicle is also being developed to accommodate the Conventional Prompt Global Strike mission for the Air Force.[citation needed] (CPGS)

Minotaur V

The Minotaur V is a five-stage version based on the Minotaur IV+. It has an additional upper stage for small GTO, lunar, and interplanetary missions. NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Mission was launched on the first Minotaur V, from the Wallops Island, Virginia launch site at 03:27 UTC on September 7, 2013. The Minotaur launched the LADEE spacecraft into a highly elliptic orbit where it can phase and time its trajectory burn to the moon.[3]

Minotaur VI

A Minotaur VI five-stage version has also been conceptualized. It is also based on the Minotaur IV+, adding a second SR-118 first stage.[4]

Launch history

Date (UTC) Rocket Flight Payload Launch pad Trajectory Result
January 27, 2000 03:03:06 Minotaur I 1 JAWSat (P98-1) (FalconSat1 / ASUSat1 / OCSE / OPAL) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
May 28, 2000 20:00 Minotaur II 1 OSP-TLV Missile Defense Technology Demonstrator Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
July 19, 2000 20:09:00 Minotaur I 2 MightySat II.1 (Sindri, P99-1) / MEMS 2A / MEMS 2B Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
December 4, 2001 04:59 Minotaur II 2 TLV-1 IFT-7 GMDS target mission Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
March 16, 2002 02:11 Minotaur II 3 TLV-2 IFT-8 GMDS target mission Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
October 15, 2002 02:01 Minotaur II 4 TLV-3 GMDS target mission Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
December 11, 2002 08:26 Minotaur II 5 TLV-4 GMDS target mission Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
April 11, 2005 13:35:00 Minotaur I 3 XSS-11 Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
September 22, 2005 19:24:00 Minotaur I 4 Streak (STP-R1) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
April 15, 2006 01:40:00 Minotaur I 5 COSMIC (FORMOSAT-3) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
December 16, 2006 12:00 Minotaur I 6 TacSat-2 / GeneSat-1 MARS LP-0B LEO Success
March 21, 2007 04:27 Minotaur II 6 TLV-5 FTX-02 SBR target mission Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
April 24, 2007 06:48 Minotaur I 7 NFIRE MARS LP-0B LEO Success
August 23, 2007 08:30 Minotaur II+ 7 TLV-7 Mission 2a sensor target for NFIRE satellite Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
September 24, 2008 06:57 Minotaur II+ 8 TLV-8 Mission 2b sensor target for NFIRE satellite Vandenberg LF-06 Suborbital Success
May 19, 2009 23:55 Minotaur I 8 TacSat-3 / PharmaSat / AeroCube 3 / HawkSat I / CP6 MARS LP-0B LEO Success
April 22, 2010 23:00 Minotaur IV Lite 1 HTV-2a hypersonic research spacecraft Vandenberg SLC-8 Suborbital Success
September 26, 2010 04:41 Minotaur IV 2 SBSS Vandenberg SLC-8 SSO Success
November 20, 2010 01:25 Minotaur IV HAPS 3 FASTRAC-A / FASTRAC-B / FalconSat-5 / FASTSAT / O/OREOS / RAX Kodiak LP-1 LEO Success
February 6, 2011 12:26 Minotaur I 9 NROL-66 Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success
June 30, 2011 03:09 Minotaur I 10 ORS-1 MARS LP-0B LEO Success
August 11, 2011 14:45 Minotaur IV Lite 4 Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2b) Vandenberg Air Force Base Suborbital Success
September 27, 2011 15:49 Minotaur IV+ 5 TacSat-4 Kodiak LP-1 MEO Success
September 7, 2013 03:27 Minotaur V 1 LADEE MARS LP-0B HEO Success
November 20, 2013 01:15 Minotaur I 11 STPSat-3 along with 28 additional cubesats MARS LP-0B LEO Success[5][6]

See also

  • Dnepr-1, a converted Soviet ICBM often used for commercial satellite launches.
  • Minotaur-C, the vehicle formerly known at Taurus.


External links