Minotaur (rocket family)

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Minotaur on a launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility

The Minotaur is a family of American solid fuel rockets derived from converted Minuteman and Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. They are built by Northrop Grumman 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 that 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 is designed to reach higher orbits, including geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and trans-lunar trajectories. The Minotaur III is a version under development, which will 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.

Vehicles[edit]

Minotaur I[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

Minotaur-C[edit]

Minotaur-C (Minotaur Commercial), formerly known as Taurus, is a vehicle derived from the air-launched Pegasus rocket. After a series of failures in 2011, the rocket was rebranded as Minotaur-C. Due to laws against selling government equipment, the Minotaur-C is the only available Minotaur rocket for commercial launches.[citation needed]

Launch statistics[edit]

Rocket configurations[edit]

1
2
3
4
5
  •   Minotaur I
  •   Minotaur II
  •   Minotaur II+
  •   Minotaur IV
  •   Minotaur IV+
  •   Minotaur IV Lite
  •   Minotaur IV HAPS
  •   Minotaur V
  •   Minotaur-C

Launch sites[edit]

1
2
3
4
5
1995
2000
2005
2010
2015
'18
  •   Kodiak LP-1
  •   MARS LP-0B
  •   Vandenberg LF-06
  •   Vandenberg SLC-8
  •   Vandenberg SLC-576E
  •   Cape Canaveral SLC-46

Launch outcomes[edit]

1
2
3
4
5
1994
2000
2005
2010
2015
'18
  •   Failure
  •   Success
  •   Planned

Launch history[edit]

1994[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
1 March 13, 1994
22:32
Minotaur-C (ARPA Taurus) VAFB SLC-576E STEP Mission 0 & DARPASAT Success

1998[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
2 February 10, 1998
13:20
Minotaur-C (Commercial Taurus) VAFB SLC-576E GFO and ORBCOMM (Satellites 11,12) Success
3 October 3, 1998
10:04
Minotaur-C (Air Force Taurus Configuration) VAFB SLC-576E Space Technology Experiment (STEX) NRO Success

1999[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
4 December 21, 1999
07:13
Minotaur-C Model 2110 VAFB SLC-576E KOMPSAT and ACRIMSAT Success

2000[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
1 January 27, 2000
03:03:06
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 JAWSat (P98-1) (FalconSat1 / ASUSat1 / OCSE / OPAL) LEO Success
5 March 12, 2000
09:29
Minotaur-C (Air Force Taurus Configuration) VAFB SLC-576E Multispectral Thermal Imager (MTI) Success
1 May 28, 2000
20:00
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 OSP-TLV Missile Defense Technology Demonstrator Suborbital Success
2 July 19, 2000
20:09:00
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 MightySat II.1 (Sindri, P99-1) / MEMS 2A / MEMS 2B LEO Success

2001[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
6 September 21, 2001
18:49
Minotaur-C Model 2110 VAFB SLC-576E Orbview-4/QuikTOMS Failure
2 December 4, 2001
04:59
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-1 IFT-7 GMDS target mission Suborbital Success

2002[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
3 March 16, 2002
02:11
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-2 IFT-8 GMDS target mission Suborbital Success
4 October 15, 2002
02:01
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-3 GMDS target mission Suborbital Success
5 December 11, 2002
08:26
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-4 GMDS target mission Suborbital Success

2004[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
7 May 20, 2004
17:47
Minotaur-C Model 3210 VAFB SLC-576E ROCSAT-2 Success

2005[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
3 April 11, 2005
13:35:00
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 XSS-11 LEO Success
4 September 22, 2005
19:24:00
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 Streak (STP-R1) LEO Success

2006[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
5 April 15, 2006
01:40:00
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 COSMIC (FORMOSAT-3) LEO Success
6 December 16, 2006
12:00
Minotaur I MARS LP-0B TacSat-2 / GeneSat-1 LEO Success

2007[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
6 March 21, 2007
04:27
Minotaur II Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-5 FTX-02 SBR target mission Suborbital Success
7 April 24, 2007
06:48
Minotaur I MARS LP-0B NFIRE LEO Success
7 August 23, 2007
08:30
Minotaur II+ Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-7 Mission 2a sensor target for NFIRE satellite Suborbital Success

2008[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
8 September 24, 2008
06:57
Minotaur II+ Vandenberg LF-06 TLV-8 Mission 2b sensor target for NFIRE satellite Suborbital Success

2009[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
8 February 24, 2009
09:55
Minotaur-C Model 3110 VAFB SLC-576E Orbiting Carbon Observatory [5] Failure
8 May 19, 2009
23:55
Minotaur I MARS LP-0B TacSat-3 / PharmaSat / AeroCube 3 / HawkSat I / CP6 LEO Success

2010[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
1 April 22, 2010
23:00
Minotaur IV Lite Vandenberg SLC-8 HTV-2a hypersonic research spacecraft Suborbital Success
2 September 26, 2010
04:41
Minotaur IV Vandenberg SLC-8 SBSS SSO Success
3 November 20, 2010
01:25
Minotaur IV HAPS Kodiak LP-1 STP-S26 (FASTRAC-A / FASTRAC-B / FalconSat-5 / FASTSAT / O/OREOS / RAX) LEO Success

2011[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
9 February 6, 2011
12:26
Minotaur I Vandenberg SLC-8 NROL-66 LEO Success
9 March 4, 2011
10:09
Minotaur-C Model 3110 VAFB SLC-576E Glory, KySat-1, Hermes, and Explorer-1 [PRIME] Failure[6]
10 June 30, 2011
03:09
Minotaur I MARS LP-0B ORS-1 LEO Success
4 August 11, 2011
14:45
Minotaur IV Lite Vandenberg Air Force Base Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2b) Suborbital Success
5 September 27, 2011
15:49
Minotaur IV+ Kodiak LP-1 TacSat-4 MEO Success

2013[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
1 September 7, 2013
03:27
Minotaur V MARS LP-0B LADEE HEO Success
11 November 20, 2013
01:15
Minotaur I MARS LP-0B ORS-3 (STPSat-3 along with 28 additional cubesats) LEO Success[7][8]

2017[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Launch
outcome
6 August 26, 2017
06:04
Minotaur IV CCAFS SLC-46 ORS-5 LEO Success
10 October 31, 2017
21:37
Minotaur-C Model 3210 VAFB SLC-576E SkySat × 6, Flock-3m × 4 Success

Planned launches[edit]

Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Configuration
Launch site Payload Orbit Customer
TBD Minotaur IV Vandenberg SLC-8 TacSat-5 LEO
Might launch on a Minotaur I
TBD Minotaur IV Lite Vandenberg SLC-8 CSM Suborbital

See also[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Minotaur". Encyclopedia Astronautix. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. 
  2. ^ "Minotaur IV". Orbital Sciences Corporation. 
  3. ^ Culler, Jessica (16 June 2015). "LADEE - Lunar Atmosphere Dust and Environment Explorer". Nasa.gov. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Orbital ATK" (PDF). Orbital.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "OCO". Orbital Sciences Corporation. 
  6. ^ "Taurus rocket nose shroud dooms another NASA satellite". Spaceflight Now, March 2011. 
  7. ^ Powell, Rebecca (16 April 2015). "Air Force Minotaur Rocket Launching from Virginia November 19". Nasa.gov. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "ORS-3 and STPSat-3 Successfully Launched". Losangeles.af.mil. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 

External links[edit]