[SatNews] Orbital ATK, Inc. has received a $23.6M contract from the U.S. Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office to launch the ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft in mid-2017, using a rocket from the company's Minotaur Launch Vehicle Family.
The ORS-5 mission will employ an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-46, operated by Space Florida at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This will be the first time a Minotaur vehicle will have flown from this range.
This Minotaur IV rocket uses retired Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Peacekeeper boosters for the first three stages and Orbital ATK Orion 38 solid rocket motors for the upper stages. Orbital ATK integrates the vehicle using flight-proven avionics, structures, software and other components that are common among Orbital ATK's space launch vehicles.
Using a launch vehicle comprised of solid rocket motors requires minimal pad infrastructure, which helps lower mission costs. The team will integrate the final launch vehicle using the Orbital ATK team at the Cape with a team comprised of employees from both Orbital and ATK heritage companies.
The award was won as a competitive commercial launch contract for the Operationally Responsive Space Office and will be licensed by the FAA.
The Minotaur family of vehicles has carried out 25 consecutive launches with a 100 percent mission success record and has placed a total of 74 satellites into orbit. Employing a combination of U.S. government-supplied rocket motors and Orbital ATK's proven commercial launch technologies provides incredible cost-savings for government payloads, enables the U.S. to compete with other countries who use their retired assets for commercial launch and keeps a critical skilled workforce employed.
"Launching from the Cape adds another capability to our program and brings us to four ranges from which Minotaur can launch," said Rich Straka, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK's Launch Vehicles Division. "This flexibility and multiple vehicle configurations enables Minotaur launch vehicles to be tailored to meet mission requirements while offering the lowest cost flight-proven launch vehicles available to the U.S. government."
"This is a prime example of where the synergies from the Orbital ATK merger are providing real benefits to our customers, by being able to deploy one launch team that possesses expertise from critical propulsion and avionics subsystems, to the full systems engineering understanding of the vehicle," said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK's Flight Systems Group.