Minotaur SLV Mission #6 – TacSat-2
Launch Date: December 11, 2006
Launch Site: Wallops Island, VA
Launch Vehicle: Minotaur I
Mission Customer: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
In December 2006, a Minotaur I rocket carrying the
TacSat-2 experimental microsatellite will be launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch site at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. The mission is the first of two awarded to Orbital in May 2006 by the United States Air Force (USAF) Space and Missile Systems Center designed to demonstrate new technologies and capabilities for providing responsive space-based support of military operations. The TacSat-2 mission will demonstrate the ability to launch a payload approximately six months following contract award. The second mission to launch the TacSat-3 satellite is scheduled to take place in October 2007.
The TacSat-2 launch will be the first Minotaur vehicle launched from MARS and the first space launch mission from Wallops Island in over 11 years. It will also be the first demonstration of a new 61-inch diameter fairing for the Minotaur I launch vehicle.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), in partnership with the Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW), both at Kirtland AFB, NM, is leading the TacSat-2 and -3 joint development teams in partnerships that include space organizations from the Air Force, Navy and Army. AFRL was also responsible for the development of the new 61" Minotaur fairing.
About the Minotaur Family of Launchers
Provided under the U.S. Air Force Orbital/Suborbital Program-2 (OSP-2) contract, the Minotaur family of launch vehicles is derived from U.S. Government-supplied Minuteman and Peacekeeper rocket motors. The space launch configurations combine commercial rocket motors, avionics and other elements with the government-supplied stages to create responsive, reliable and low-cost launch systems for U.S. government payloads. The integrated launch service is provided by the Rocket Systems Launch Program under the USAF. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
The Minotaur I space launch vehicle configuration used in the TacSat-2 launch includes Minuteman rocket motors that serve as the vehicle's first and second stages, efficiently reusing motors that have been previously decommissioned. Its third and fourth stages and structures are common with Orbital's highly reliable Pegasus XL rocket.
The rockets that will launch TacSat-2 and -3 microsatellites are the seventh and eighth Minotaur I space launch vehicles to be ordered by the USAF and are the 18th and 19th orders placed for the complete Minotaur family of launch vehicles.
In addition to the launch of the TacSat-3 spacecraft from the MARS facility in October 2007, a Minotaur I mission to launch the Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) spacecraft will take place in April 2007.
Source: Orbital - Mission Updates