Orbital Successfully Launches NASA's LADEE Spacecraft Aboard Minotaur V Rocket

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, announced today that its Minotaur V rocket successfully launched NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) satellite. Originating from Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia late yesterday, the LADEE mission marked the first launch of Orbital’s Minotaur V rocket and the fifth Minotaur vehicle to be launched from the Wallops facility.

The first stage of Minotaur V ignited at 11:27 p.m. (EDT) and separated the LADEE spacecraft 23 minutes later into its intended insertion point, successfully completing the rocket’s five-stage sequence. With the placement of LADEE into its highly elliptical orbit, the spacecraft began its 30-day journey to the Moon. Upon reaching its nominal orbit approximately 31 miles above the lunar surface, LADEE will collect data on the Moon’s exosphere and lunar dust environment. It will also gather information derived from new laser communications technologies, which will likely prove beneficial for future deep space missions.

The launch of NASA’s LADEE spacecraft aboard our new Minotaur V rocket was a tremendous success, building on our exemplary track record with today’s 24th fully successful Minotaur launch,” said Mr. Lou Amorosi, Orbital’s Senior Vice President of Orbital’s Small Space Launch Vehicle business. “This mission further demonstrates the capabilities of our well-established Minotaur rocket family and our commitment to providing reliable access to space.”

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The Minotaur V is a five-stage space launch vehicle designed, built and operated by Orbital for the U.S. Air Force. It uses three decommissioned Peacekeeper government-supplied booster stages that Orbital combines with commercial motors for the upper two stages to produce a low-cost rocket for launching smaller spacecraft into low-Earth orbit and higher-energy trajectories, such as the trans-lunar flight of the LADEE mission.

Source: Orbital Sciences Corp.
Date: Sep 9, 2013