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Satnews Daily
April 27th, 2010

Orbital Sciences + USAF... Make Way For Minotaur IV

The inaugural launch of Minotaur IV "Lite" — photo courtesy of Orbital Sciences

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) has successfully launched the first Minotaur IV rocket in support of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) program. The Minotaur IV rocket is the newest in the Minotaur family of launchers that Orbital produces for the U.S. Air Force under the Orbital/Suborbital Program-2 contract.

The mission originated from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, when the rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-8 at approximately 4:00 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, 22 April. The Minotaur IV flew a suborbital trajectory downrange over the Pacific and delivered the HTV-2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions. The Minotaur IV launch vehicle is based on decommissioned Peacekeeper rocket motors that Orbital integrates and upgrades with modern avionics and other subsystems to produce a cost-effective booster based on flight-proven hardware. For the HTV-2 mission, Orbital flew the three-stage Minotaur IV "Lite" version of the rocket to carry out the suborbital flight trajectory. The first orbital mission of the four-stage Minotaur IV configuration will take place this summer when it launches the Air Force's Space Base Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite.