Encyclopedia Astronautica
Minotaur



zminotau.jpg
Minotaur
Credit: OSC
Minotaur was developed for the US Air Force's Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP) as a low-cost, four-stage Space Launch Vehicle (SLV) using a combination of government-supplied surplus Minuteman II ICBM motors and proven Orbital space launch technologies. Proposed growth versions would use surplus Peacekeeper rocket stages.

The Minuteman motors served as the vehicle's first and second stages. Minotaur's third and fourth stages, structures and payload fairing were taken directly from Orbital's existing Pegasus XL rocket. Its capabilities were enhanced with the addition of improved avionics systems, including a Modular Avionics Control Hardware (MACH), already used on many of Orbital's suborbital launch vehicles.

Minotaur made its inaugural flight in January 2000, successfully delivering a number of small military and university satellites into orbit and marking the first-use of surplus Minuteman boosters in a space launch.

Several derivatives of Minotaur were developed or proposed:

  • Minotaur I (the original Minotaur), 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 an 185 km, 28.5 degree orbit from Cape Canaveral; 310 kg to a 740 km sun-synchronous orbit from Vandenberg.
  • Minotaur II (a suborbital target vehicle), consisting of an M55A1 first stage, SR19 second stage, and M57 third stage - essentially a Minuteman II with Orbital guidance and control systems. 440 kg payload on a 6700 km suborbital trajectory.
  • Minotaur III (a suborbital target vehicle), using surplus Peacekeeper rocket stages, with an SR-118 first stage, SR-119 second stage, SR-120 third stage, and Super HAPS fourth stage. 3060 kg payload on a 6700 km suborbital trajectory.
  • Minotaur IV (space launch vehicle), as Minotaur III but with an Orion 38 fourth stage and optional HAPS fifth stage. Payload 1720 kg to an 185 km, 28.5 degree orbit from Cape Canaveral; 1000 kg to a 740 km sun-synchronous orbit from Vandenberg.
  • Minotaur V (space launch vehicle for putting small spacecraft on high-energy trajectories, such as GTO, HEO, and lunar), as Minotaur IV but with a Star 48V fourth stage and Orion 38 fifth stage. Payload 560 kg to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

All of the Minotaur-family launches to date have been from Vandenberg AFB, CA. Minotaur I launches were from Space Launch Complex 8 (SLC-8), the Spaceport Systems Incorporated (SSI) Commercial Launch Facility (CLF). Minotaur II launches have all been from Launch Facility 06 (LF-06).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • Microstar American communications technology satellite. 22 launches, 1995.04.03 (Orbcomm F1) to 2008.10.19 (Formosat 3F). Small satellite bus, specially designed for multiple launch by Pegasus or Taurus family launch vehicles. More...
  • FalconSat American technology satellite. 3 launches, 2000.01.27 (Falconsat) to 2007.03.09 (Falconsat-3). The JAWSAT/FalconSat payloads were developed as a joint effort between the Air Force Academy and Weber State University. More...
  • STENSAT American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Picosat built by built by the AMSAT-NA (Amateur Satellite, North America) group, and carried an amateur radio transponder. More...
  • OPAL American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Stanford University Orbiting Picosat Automated Launcher. More...
  • OCSE American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Optical Calibration Sphere Experiment, a 3.5m diameter inflatable sphere built by L'Garde Inc. for calibrating the lasers at the AFRL Starfire Optical Range. More...
  • JAWSAT American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. The JAWSAT/FalconSat payloads are being developed as a joint effort between the Air Force Academy and Weber State University. More...
  • MEMS American communications technology satellite. 2 launches, 2000.01.27 (Picosat 1) to (Picosat 2). DARPA/Aerospace Corp. MEMS (Micro Electro-mechanical Systems) were 0. More...
  • JAK American technology satellite, launched, 2000.01.27. Three picosatellites (JAK, Thelma, and Louise), developed by the Artemis team of women undergraduates at Santa Clara University, were deployed from the OPAL satellite. More...
  • ASUSAT American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Arizona State University satellite with an Earth imager and an amateur radio transponder. More...
  • SA-200 The Spectrum Astro SA-200 satellite bus provided a flexible platform for satellites launched by the Pegasus booster. 4 launches, 2000.07.19 (Mightysat 2.1) to 2009.05.05. More...
  • Picosat American tether technology satellite. One launch, 2001.09.07. Picosat 7/Picosat 8 were ejected from the Mightysat II.1 satellite. The 0.25 kg satellites were connected by a 30 m tether and were deployed a year after launch. More...
  • XSS American rendezvous technology satellite. 2 launches, 2003.01.29 (XSS-10) and 2005.04.11 (USA 165). More...
  • USA 185 American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 2005.09.23. Classified research satellite, said to carry instruments to characterise the space environment in a sun-synchronous orbit. More...
  • Genesat American biology satellite. One launch, 2006.12.16. Genesat was a NASA Ames nanosatellite launched as a secondary payload. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Minotaur American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Minotaur was developed for the US Air Force's Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP) as a low-cost, four-stage Space Launch Vehicle (SLV) using a combination of government-supplied surplus Minuteman II ICBM motors and proven Orbital space launch technologies. The Minotaur 4 version used surplus Peacekeeper rocket stages. More...
  • Minotaur 1 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Orbital launch vehicle consisting of a surplus Minuteman M55A1 first stage, Minuteman SR19 second stage, and new Orion 50XL third stage, Orion 38 fourth stage, and optional HAPS fifth stage for velocity trim and multiple payload deployment. Payload 580 kg to an 185 km, 28.5 degree orbit from Cape Canaveral; 310 kg to a 740 km sun-synchronous orbit from Vandenberg. More...
  • Minotaur 2 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Suborbital target vehicle consisting of an M55A1 first stage, SR19 second stage, and M57 third stage - essentially a Minuteman II with Orbital guidance and control systems. 440 kg payload on a 6700 km suborbital trajectory. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Wallops Island Small NASA launch site for sounding rocket launches and occasional Scout launches to orbit. Air launches are conducted from the Drop Zone Wallops Island, 37.00 N 72.0 W. With the last orbital launch in 1985 and the decline in sounding rocket launches, Wallops fell into near-disuse as a launch center. Its fortunes revised with the establishment of Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2005 and orbital launches resumed in 2010. More...
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...

Minotaur Chronology


2000 January 27 - . 03:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 1.
  • JAWSAT - . Payload: P98-1. Mass: 64 kg (141 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFMC. Manufacturer: Weber. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: JAWSAT. USAF Sat Cat: 26061 . COSPAR: 2000-004A. Apogee: 805 km (501 mi). Perigee: 753 km (468 mi). Inclination: 100.1976 deg. Period: 100.36 min. Summary: Joint USAF Academy/Weber State Satellite. Payloads included a plasma experiment, a particle detector, and a technology test..
  • OPAL - . Payload: Orbiting Picosat Launcher. Mass: 13 kg (28 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFMC. Manufacturer: Stanford. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: OPAL. USAF Sat Cat: 26063 . COSPAR: 2000-004C. Apogee: 808 km (502 mi). Perigee: 754 km (468 mi). Inclination: 100.1991 deg. Period: 100.39 min. Stanford University Orbiting Picosat Automated Launcher. Carried an acclerometer, a magnetometer, and six small picosatellites - Picosat 1 and 2, Stensat, and the Artemis triplets (JAK, Thelma, and Louise). The first two were deployed on February 7 at 0334:16 GMT. OPAL transmitter problems delayed the initial release.
  • OCSE - . Payload: Optical Calibration Sphere. Mass: 22 kg (48 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF SOR. Manufacturer: L'Garde. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: OCSE. Decay Date: 2001-03-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 26062 . COSPAR: 2000-004B. Apogee: 711 km (442 mi). Perigee: 677 km (421 mi). Inclination: 100.2240 deg. Period: 98.57 min. Optical Calibration Sphere Experiment, a 3.5m diameter inflatable sphere built by L'Garde Inc. for calibrating the lasers at the AFRL Starfire Optical Range. The 0.48m long 0.41m diameter OCSE canister was ejected from the JAWSAT stack; 42 seconds later, with the canister clear of the other payloads, the canister door opened and 10 seconds after that inflation of the sphere began. The canister remains attached to the inflated sphere. Once inflated, the sphere's material becomes rigidized
  • Falconsat - . Mass: 52 kg (114 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFMC. Manufacturer: USAF Colorado Springs. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Falconsat. USAF Sat Cat: 26064 . COSPAR: 2000-004D. Apogee: 810 km (503 mi). Perigee: 754 km (468 mi). Inclination: 100.2003 deg. Period: 100.41 min. Summary: USAF Academy satellite, carried the CHAWS-LD (Charging Hazards and Wake Studies-Long Duration) experiment to measure spacecraft charging effects in LEO..
  • JAK - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: SCREEM. Manufacturer: Santa Clara. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: JAK. USAF Sat Cat: 26093 . COSPAR: 2000-004L. Apogee: 763 km (474 mi). Perigee: 716 km (444 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 99.60 min. Three picosatellites (JAK, Thelma, and Louise), developed by the Artemis team of women undergraduates at Santa Clara University, were deployed from the OPAL satellite. . JAK is the initials of the infant son of the Artemis' team's advisor Mass 0.2 kg; size around 0.1 - 0.2m. Carried a VLF wave experiment. Ejected from OPAL on February 11; unfortunately no data was received thereafter.
  • Louise - . Mass: 68 kg (149 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: SCREEM. Manufacturer: Santa Clara. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: JAK. USAF Sat Cat: 26092 . COSPAR: 2000-004K. Apogee: 781 km (485 mi). Perigee: 731 km (454 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 100.00 min. Three picosatellites (JAK, Thelma, and Louise), developed by the Artemis team of women undergraduates at Santa Clara University, were deployed from the OPAL satellite. Mass 0.5 kg; size around 0.1-0.2m. Carried a VLF wave experiment. Ejected from OPAL on February 12; unfortunately no data was received thereafter.
  • Thelma - . Mass: 68 kg (149 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: SCREEM. Manufacturer: Santa Clara. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: JAK. USAF Sat Cat: 26091 . COSPAR: 2000-004J. Apogee: 767 km (476 mi). Perigee: 723 km (449 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 99.70 min. Three picosatellites (JAK, Thelma, and Louise), developed by the Artemis team of women undergraduates at Santa Clara University, were deployed from the OPAL satellite. Mass 0.5 kg; size around 0.1-0.2m. Carried a VLF wave experiment. Ejected from OPAL on February 12; unfortunately no data was received thereafter.
  • Picosat 2 - . Mass: 0 kg ( lb). Nation: USA. Agency: DARPA. Manufacturer: Aerospace. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MEMS. USAF Sat Cat: 26080 . COSPAR: 2000-004H. Apogee: 779 km (484 mi). Perigee: 733 km (455 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 100.00 min. Deployed by the OPAL satellite on February 7 at 0334:16 GMT. Picosat 1 and 2 were each 0.25 kg DARPA/Aerospace Corp. MEMS (Micro Electro-mechanical Systems) picosatellites, each carrying intersatellite communications experiment and connected by a 30-m tether.
  • Picosat 1 - . Mass: 0 kg ( lb). Nation: USA. Agency: DARPA. Manufacturer: Aerospace. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MEMS. USAF Sat Cat: 26080 . COSPAR: 2000-004H. Apogee: 779 km (484 mi). Perigee: 733 km (455 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 100.00 min. Deployed by the OPAL satellite on February 7 at 0334:16 GMT. Picosat 1 and 2 were each 0.25 kg DARPA/Aerospace Corp. MEMS (Micro Electro-mechanical Systems) picosatellites, each carrying intersatellite communications experiment and connected by a 30-m tether.
  • STENSAT - . Mass: 0 kg ( lb). Nation: USA. Agency: AmSat. Manufacturer: STENSAT. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: STENSAT. USAF Sat Cat: 26094 . COSPAR: 2000-004M. Apogee: 783 km (486 mi). Perigee: 734 km (456 mi). Inclination: 100.2000 deg. Period: 100.00 min. Summary: Picosat. Built by built by the AMSAT-NA (Amateur Satellite, North America) group, and carried an amateur radio transponder. Ejected from OPAL on February 11; unfortunately no data was received thereafter..
  • ASUSAT - . Mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFMC. Manufacturer: Arizona. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: ASUSAT. USAF Sat Cat: 26065 . COSPAR: 2000-004E. Apogee: 809 km (502 mi). Perigee: 754 km (468 mi). Inclination: 100.2009 deg. Period: 100.40 min. Summary: Arizona State University satellite with an Earth imager and an amateur radio transponder..

2000 May 28 - . 20:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV Demo.
  • OSPTLV 1 Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFMC. Apogee: 1,300 km (800 mi). Summary: OSP-TLV (TLV-Demo) Missile Defense Technology.

2000 July 19 - . 20:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 2.
  • Mightysat 2.1 - . Payload: SA-200B. Mass: 120 kg (260 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF STP. Manufacturer: Gilbert. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: SA-200. Decay Date: 2002-11-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 26414 . COSPAR: 2000-042A. Apogee: 581 km (361 mi). Perigee: 547 km (340 mi). Inclination: 97.7835 deg. Period: 95.86 min. Mightysat 2.1, also known as Sindri, used a Spectrum Astro SA-200B satellite bus. The spacecraft carried a hyperspectral imager for earth imaging and spectroscopy, as well as satellite technology experiments such as advanced solar arrays. An Aerospace Corp./DARPA picosatellite experiment, consisting of two small boxes connected by a deployable tether, was deployed later. Similar picosats were deployed on the previous Minotaur launch in January 2000.
  • Picosat 7/8 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Picosat. Decay Date: 2002-07-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 26929 . COSPAR: 2000-042C. Apogee: 286 km (177 mi). Perigee: 266 km (165 mi). Inclination: 97.8000 deg. Period: 90.00 min. Picosat 7/Picosat 8, were ejected from the Mightysat II.1 satellite on September 7 at 1939 UTC into a 511 x 539 km x 97.8 deg orbit. The 0.25 kg satellites were connected by a 30 m tether and were cataloged as a single object. Mightysat II.1 (Sindri) was launched in July 2000, and the deployment of the picosats was planned for a year after launch.

2001 December 4 - . 04:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-1.
  • IFT-7 GMDS target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi). Summary: Instead of Lockheed Martinís Multi-Service Launch System, Orbitalís Target Launch Vehicle was used (both being versions of surplus Minuteman 2 ICBM's). The target set, a mock warhead and a single decoy, did not change..

2002 March 16 - . 02:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF03. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-2.
  • IFT-8 GMDS target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi). Summary: A mock warhead and three decoy balloons (one large, two small) were used to increase the difficulty of determining the targetís location..

2002 October 15 - . 02:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-3.
  • GMDS (OSP/TLV-4?) target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi). Summary: ABM target, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base towards the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein. The target suite consisted of a mock warhead and a number of decoys..

2002 December 11 - . 08:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-4.
  • GMDS (OSP/TLV-5?) target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi). Summary: ABM target.This was to have been the first night-test of the GMDS, and presumably the decoy suite was more complex than previously used..

2005 April 11 - . 13:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 3.
  • USA 165 - . Payload: XSS-11. Mass: 145 kg (319 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF RL. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Class: Technology. Type: Rendezvous technology satellite. Spacecraft: XSS. USAF Sat Cat: 28636 . COSPAR: 2005-011A. Apogee: 872 km (541 mi). Perigee: 840 km (520 mi). Inclination: 98.8000 deg. Period: 102.10 min. Delayed from November 9, 2004; January 19, March 18, 2005. Military Autonomous Rendezvous Technology. It tested navigation technologies for rendezvous that directly measured relative position to the target satellite. It was have to rendezvoused with several defunct American satellites. However it was only known to have conducted operations with its own Minotaur upper stage

2005 September 23 - . 02:24 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 4.
  • USA 185 - . Payload: Streak STP-R1. Mass: 417 kg (919 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: DARPA. Manufacturer: C4. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Decay Date: 2006-06-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 28871 . COSPAR: 2005-037A. Apogee: 318 km (197 mi). Perigee: 295 km (183 mi). Inclination: 96.3000 deg. Period: 90.70 min. Summary: Delayed from May, June, July, 2005. Classified research satellite, said to carry instruments to characterise the space environment in a sun-synchronous orbit..

2006 April 15 - . 01:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 5.
  • Formosat 3A FM6 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29047 . COSPAR: 2006-011A. Apogee: 538 km (334 mi). Perigee: 496 km (308 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 95.00 min. FORMOSAT-3 consisted of six small 62 kg Orbcomm-type satellites with GPS receivers which were to measure atmospheric conditions by studying the effect of the atmosphere on GPS satellite signals passing through it. The satellites, also known as COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate), each raised their orbits over several months, all but one reaching operational orbits of around 770 x 840 km by September 2007.
  • Formosat 3B FM1 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29048 . COSPAR: 2006-011B. Apogee: 541 km (336 mi). Perigee: 500 km (310 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 95.00 min.
  • Formosat 3C FM5 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29049 . COSPAR: 2006-011C. Apogee: 681 km (423 mi). Perigee: 567 km (352 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 97.20 min.
  • Formosat 3D FM3 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29050 . COSPAR: 2006-011D. Apogee: 538 km (334 mi). Perigee: 496 km (308 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 95.00 min. Summary: Became stuck in intermediate 675 x 750 km due to solar panel failure..
  • Formosat 3E FM4 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29051 . COSPAR: 2006-011E. Apogee: 538 km (334 mi). Perigee: 496 km (308 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 95.00 min.
  • Formosat 3F FM2 - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: Taiwan. Agency: NSPO. Manufacturer: OSC. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: MicroStar. USAF Sat Cat: 29052 . COSPAR: 2006-011F. Apogee: 542 km (336 mi). Perigee: 497 km (308 mi). Inclination: 72.0000 deg. Period: 95.00 min.

2006 December 16 - . 12:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA0B. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 6.
  • Tacsat-2 - . Mass: 370 kg (810 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: AFRL. Manufacturer: MicroSats. Program: Tacsat. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Tacsat ORS. Decay Date: 2011-02-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 29653 . COSPAR: 2006-058A. Apogee: 426 km (264 mi). Perigee: 410 km (250 mi). Inclination: 40.0100 deg. Period: 92.93 min. Tacsat-2 was a prototype rapid development/rapid deployment tactical military satellite that provided American Joint Task Force commanders direct control of a satellite providing both SIGINT and imagery with a resolution of better than 1-m. The known communications payload used an 8 GHz (X-band) downlink. This was the first orbital launch from Wallops Island since 1985. TacSat-2 was to have been launched by a Falcon-1 from Vandenberg into a sun-synchronous orbit. However, the failure of Falcon-1 on its long-delayed maiden in March 2006 caused AFRL to award a new launch contract for TacSat-2 and TacSat-3 to OSC in May 2006. The launch was achieved using OSC's Minotaur launch vehicle only seven months after contract award.
  • GeneSat-1 - . Mass: 7.00 kg (15.40 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Manufacturer: NASA Ames. Class: Biology. Type: Biology satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 29654 . COSPAR: 2006-058B. Apogee: 426 km (264 mi). Perigee: 410 km (250 mi). Inclination: 40.0100 deg. Period: 92.93 min. Nanosatellite launched as a secondary payload. A collaboration of NASA, industry, and local universities resulted in this fully-automated, miniaturized spaceflight system that provided life support, nutrient delivery, and performed assays to monitor genetic changes of E. coli bacteria in space conditions.

2007 March 21 - . 04:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-5.
  • FTX-02 SBR Target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSPC. Apogee: 1,300 km (800 mi).

2007 April 24 - . 06:48 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA0B. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1. LV Configuration: Minotaur 1 7.
  • NFIRE - . Payload: SA-200B. Mass: 494 kg (1,089 lb). Nation: USA. Manufacturer: Gilbert. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: SA-200. USAF Sat Cat: 31140 . COSPAR: 2007-014A. Apogee: 497 km (308 mi). Perigee: 489 km (303 mi). Inclination: 48.2000 deg. Period: 94.50 min. Near Field Infrared Experiment conducted by the US Missile Defense Agency. Its Track Sensor Payload included visible and short, medium and long wave infrared sensors to observe missiles launched from the ground, and obtain basic data to distinguish between the missile and its hot rocket exhaust plume for application to anti-ballistic missile systems. Secondary payloads included Tesat, a German laser communications terminal, and its hydrazine propulsion system. This was used to maneuver the satellite from its initial 255 km x 465 km x 48.2 deg orbit to 489 km x 497 km by 18 May. The orbit was changed to 243 km x 487 km on 9 August and by 23 August was 219 km x 450 km. The satellite had a dry mass of 380 kg dry, was 2.7 m long and 1.3 m in diameter.

    The first major sensor test occurred when Minotaur II rocket TLV-7, was fired at 08:30 GMT on 23 August from Vandenberg in NFIRE Mission 2a. The Minotaur II was aimed to pass within 4 and 20 km of the NFIRE satellite while its third stage motor burning, to allow NFIRE to get a close look at the rocket and its exhaust. The Missile Defense Agency reported that the experiment was successful.


2007 August 23 - . 08:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 TLV-7.
  • TLV-7 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,300 km (800 mi). Mission 2a sensor target for the NFIRE satellite. The Minotaur II, a three-stage refurbished Minuteman 2 missile with a new guidance and payload section, was aimed to pass within 4 and 20 km of the NFIRE satellite while its third stage motor was burning, to allow NFIRE's sensors to characterize the the rocket and its exhaust. The Missile Defense Agency reported that Mission 2a was successful.

2008 September 24 - . 06:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg LF06. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 2. LV Configuration: Minotaur 2 Chimera.
  • NFIRE 2b - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,300 km (800 mi).

2009 May 18 - . 23:55 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA0B. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1.
  • Aerocube 3 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-08-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 35005 . COSPAR: 2009-028E. Apogee: 464 km (288 mi). Perigee: 427 km (265 mi). Inclination: 40.5000 deg. Period: 93.50 min. Summary: 10-cm cubesat for Aerospace Corporation..
  • Tacsat 3 - . Mass: 400 kg (880 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: Tacsat. Spacecraft: Tacsat ORS. USAF Sat Cat: 35001 . COSPAR: 2009-028A. Apogee: 465 km (288 mi). Perigee: 433 km (269 mi). Inclination: 40.5000 deg. Period: 93.60 min. Summary: USAF experimental imaging satellite..
  • Pharmasat - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 35002 . COSPAR: 2009-028B. Apogee: 465 km (288 mi). Perigee: 429 km (266 mi). Inclination: 40.5000 deg. Period: 93.50 min. Summary: NASA satellite..
  • Hawksat 1 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-10-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 35003 . COSPAR: 2009-028C. Apogee: 464 km (288 mi). Perigee: 428 km (265 mi). Inclination: 40.5000 deg. Period: 93.50 min. Summary: 10-cm cubesat for Hawk Institute for Space Sciences..
  • CP6 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2011-09-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 35004 . COSPAR: 2009-028D. Apogee: 463 km (287 mi). Perigee: 427 km (265 mi). Inclination: 40.5000 deg. Period: 93.50 min. Summary: 10-cm cubesat for California Polytechnic..

2010 April 23 - . 23:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 4. LV Configuration: Minotaur 4L.
  • HTV-2a - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). Summary: Hypersonic test.

2010 September 30 - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 4. LV Configuration: Minotaur IV.
  • USA 216 - . Payload: SBSS. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Manufacturer: Ball. Class: Surveillance. Type: Orbital object surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: BCP-2000. USAF Sat Cat: 37168 . COSPAR: 2010-048A. Apogee: 633 km (393 mi). Perigee: 632 km (392 mi). Inclination: 98.0000 deg. Period: 97.40 min. Summary: First Space-Based Surveillance Satellite; designed to track satellites and orbital junk from a space-based vantage point..

2010 November 20 - . 01:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Kodiak. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 4.
  • USA 217 - . Payload: STPSat-2 SIV. Mass: 135 kg (297 lb). Nation: USA. Manufacturer: AeroAstro. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft: STPSat. USAF Sat Cat: 37222 . COSPAR: 2010-062A. Summary: Technology experiments. Lead satellite of USAF Space Test Program mission S26..
  • USA 218 - . Payload: RAX. Mass: 3.00 kg (6.60 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Science. Type: Science satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 37223 . COSPAR: 2010-062B. Summary: Radio Aurora Explorer, a National Science Foundation 3U cubesat, built by the University of Michigan, to study the aurora by picking up ground-based radar signals..
  • USA 219 - . Payload: O/OREOS. Mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Science. Type: Science satellite. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 37224 . COSPAR: 2010-062C. Summary: 3U cubesat by NASA-Ames with life science experiments to study microbes in free fall and the effects of ultraviolet light on organic materials..
  • USA 220 - . Payload: Fastsat-HSV. Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. USAF Sat Cat: 37225 . COSPAR: 2010-062D. Summary: Developed by NASA-Marshall and subcontractors in Huntsville; carried ionospheric and atmospheric experiments, a USAF experiment, and the Nanosail-D2 solar sail..
  • USA 221 - . Payload: Falconsat-5. Mass: 161 kg (354 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. USAF Sat Cat: 37226 . COSPAR: 2010-062E. Summary: US Air Force Academy satellite with experiments to study plasma and the ionosphere..
  • USA 222 - . Payload: Fastrac 1. Mass: 30 kg (66 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. USAF Sat Cat: 37227 . COSPAR: 2010-062F. Summary: Developed by University of Texas at Austin with USAF fuding for formation flying experiments..
  • Ballast A - . Payload: S26 Ballast A. Nation: USA. USAF Sat Cat: 37230 . COSPAR: 2010-062J.
  • Ballast B - . Payload: S26 Ballast B. Nation: USA. USAF Sat Cat: 37231 . COSPAR: 2010-062K.

2011 February 6 - . 12:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1.
  • USA 225 - . Payload: RPP. Nation: USA. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. USAF Sat Cat: 37364 . COSPAR: 2011-006A. Summary: National Reconnaissance Office Rapid Pathfinder Program technology satellite, probably placed in polar orbit..

2011 June 30 - . 03:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops LA0B. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 1.
  • USA 231 - . Payload: ORS-1. Nation: USA. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Tacsat ORS. COSPAR: 2011-029A. Apogee: 409 km (254 mi). Perigee: 396 km (246 mi). Inclination: 40.0000 deg. Period: 92.60 min. Prototype optical surveillance satellite developed under the USAF Operationally Responsive Space program. Derived from Tacsat 3. Objective is to deploy small satellites to support military operations on short notice, either to provide a surge capability or to replace malfunctioning or disabled primary assets.

2011 August 11 - . 14:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC8. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 4. LV Configuration: Minotaur 4 Lite.
  • HTV-2b - . Nation: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). Summary: Test mission. Hypersonic glider was launched from Vandenberg across the Pacific. The mission ended prematurely with loss of signal three minutes into the glider's free flight..

2011 September 27 - . 15:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Kodiak. LV Family: Minotaur. Launch Vehicle: Minotaur 4. LV Configuration: Minotaur 4+.
  • Tacsat 4 - . Nation: USA. Program: Tacsat. Class: Communications. Type: Communications satellite. Spacecraft: Tacsat ORS. USAF Sat Cat: 37818 . COSPAR: 2011-052A. Apogee: 12,010 km (7,460 mi). Perigee: 742 km (461 mi). Inclination: 63.6000 deg. Period: 238.90 min. Naval Research Laboratory UHF communications satellite, equipped with a 3.7-meter-diameter communications antenna to support military handheld satellite telephones. Launch used an uprated Minotaur IV with an ATK Star 48V motor replacing the Orion 38 upper stage.

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