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.
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).
LEO Payload: 640 kg (1,410 lb) to a 185 km orbit at 28.50 degrees. Payload: 335 kg (738 lb) to a 741 km SSO. Success Rate: 100.00%. Launch data is: continuing. Recurring Price $: 12.500 million in 1999 dollars.
Stage Data - Minotaur
- Stage 1. 1 x Minuteman-1. Gross Mass: 23,077 kg (50,876 lb). Empty Mass: 2,292 kg (5,052 lb). Thrust (vac): 791.300 kN (177,891 lbf). Isp: 262 sec. Burn time: 60 sec. Isp(sl): 237 sec. Diameter: 1.67 m (5.47 ft). Span: 1.67 m (5.47 ft). Length: 7.49 m (24.57 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: M55/TX-55/Tu-122. Status: Out of Production. Comments: First stage of Minuteman I. Proposed as zero stage for various Saturn variants in 1960's. Surplus motors used in ABM SDI tests in 1980's and 1990's.
- Stage 2. 1 x Minuteman 2-2. Gross Mass: 7,032 kg (15,502 lb). Empty Mass: 795 kg (1,752 lb). Thrust (vac): 267.700 kN (60,181 lbf). Isp: 288 sec. Burn time: 66 sec. Diameter: 1.33 m (4.36 ft). Span: 1.33 m (4.36 ft). Length: 4.12 m (13.51 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: SR-19. Status: Out of production. Comments: Second stage of Minuteman 2. Used as second stage of Minotaur launch vehicle and various SDI targets in 1980's.
- Stage 3. 1 x Pegasus XL-2. Gross Mass: 4,331 kg (9,548 lb). Empty Mass: 416 kg (917 lb). Thrust (vac): 153.503 kN (34,509 lbf). Isp: 290 sec. Burn time: 73 sec. Isp(sl): 240 sec. Diameter: 1.27 m (4.16 ft). Span: 1.27 m (4.16 ft). Length: 3.58 m (11.74 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: Pegasus XL-2. Status: In Production.
- Stage 4. 1 x Pegasus-3. Gross Mass: 985 kg (2,171 lb). Empty Mass: 203 kg (447 lb). Thrust (vac): 34.568 kN (7,771 lbf). Isp: 293 sec. Burn time: 65 sec. Isp(sl): 240 sec. Diameter: 0.97 m (3.18 ft). Span: 0.97 m (3.18 ft). Length: 2.08 m (6.82 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: Pegasus-3. Status: In Production.
More... - Chronology...
Gross mass: 36,200 kg (79,800 lb).
Payload: 640 kg (1,410 lb).
Height: 19.21 m (63.02 ft).
Diameter: 1.67 m (5.47 ft).
Thrust: 720.00 kN (161,860 lbf).
Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).
First Launch: 2010.09.30.
Last Launch: 2010.09.30.
Number: 1 .
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...
OPAL American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Stanford University Orbiting Picosat Automated Launcher. 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...
ASUSAT American technology satellite. One launch, 2000.01.27. Arizona State University satellite with an Earth imager and an amateur radio transponder. 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...
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...
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...
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...
Minotaur 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. More...
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
OSC American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Orbital Sciences Corporation, USA. More...
McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
California SpacePort Home Page, Web Address when accessed: here.
Isakowitz, Steven J, Hopkins, Joshua B, and Hopkins, Joseph P, International Reference to Space Launch Systems, AIAA, Washington DC, 2004.
NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.
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