Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world's leading space technology companies, announced today that its Minotaur IV space launch vehicle was successfully launched for the U.S. Air Force, placing the U.S. Navy's Tactical Satellite-4 (TacSat-4) into a precise orbit of the Earth. The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office is the launch sponsor of the TacSat-4 program, which is demonstrating the use of standard interfaces to shorten development timelines and delivering tactical capabilities to the foot soldier.
The mission originated from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska on September 27, 2011. The rocket's first stage ignited at 11:49 a.m. (EDT), beginning its flight into low-Earth orbit. Approximately 28 minutes later, the Minotaur IV deployed the TacSat-4 satellite into its targeted highly elliptical orbit of approximately 7,415 miles (11,865 kilometers) by 115 miles (185 kilometers) above the Earth's surface. The TacSat-4 launch was the fifth Minotaur IV flight and the 23rd overall mission for the Minotaur product line over the last 11 years, all of which have been successful.
"The successful Minotaur IV flight continues our well-established record of mission success for the Minotaur rocket family. Orbital is proud to support the U.S. Air Force with the newest member of the Minotaur launch vehicle family for the operationally responsive TacSat program," said Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital's Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group. "With a perfect track record of 23 successful launches over the last 11 years, the Minotaur family has proven to be a valuable asset for the Department of Defense to meet its space launch needs."
The Minotaur family of launch vehicles is based on government-furnished Peacekeeper and Minuteman rocket motors that Orbital has upgraded and integrated with modern avionics and other subsystems to produce a cost-effective launcher based on flight-proven hardware. The Minotaur product line utilizes standardized avionics and subsystems, mature processes and experienced personnel to make them reliable and cost effective. Minotaur rockets are capable of launching from all major U.S. spaceports, including launch sites in Alaska, California, Florida and Virginia.
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