-- Rocket to Launch NASA’s Lunar Spacecraft From Wallops Island in
-- New Order Represents the 28th Minotaur
Rocket Ordered Since 1997 --
DULLES, Va.Sep. 14, 2009--
Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that the U.S.
Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) recently ordered the
first Minotaur V launch vehicle under the company’s Orbital/Suborbital
Program-2 (OSP-2) contract. The Minotaur V rocket will propel NASA’s
Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe on a
trajectory to enable it to orbit the Moon. The Air Force’s Space
Development and Test Wing (SDTW), located at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico,
administers the OSP-2 contract. The program office is responsible for
all Minotaur vehicles for the Launch Test Squadron (LTS) of SDTW.
The company’s new order brings the total number of Minotaur launch
vehicles procured by the U.S. Air Force, including space launch and
target vehicles, to 28 since the inception of the program in 1997. It
also represents the first order of a Minotaur V rocket designed to
launch U.S. government satellites into higher-energy orbits for missions
related to space exploration and other activities beyond low-Earth orbit.
“We are pleased to support NASA and the Air Force for this exciting
mission to Earth’s Moon,” said Mr. Lou Amorosi, Orbital Vice President
and Program Director of the Minotaur product line. “The Minotaur V
launch vehicle was designed exactly with missions such as LADEE in mind,
using both government-supplied and commercial rocket motors to provide
highly reliable and affordable launches for high-energy and
LADEE is a NASA probe that will orbit the Moon to characterize the
atmosphere and lunar dust environment and determine the global density,
composition, and time variability of the lunar atmosphere before it is
perturbed by further human activity. The mission is currently scheduled
for launch in May 2012 from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Minotaur V is a five-stage space launch vehicle capable of launching
satellites weighing up to 650 Kg (1,425 lbs.) to geosynchronous transfer
orbit or over 400 Kg (900 lbs.) to trans-lunar and other Earth-escape
trajectories. The rocket’s first three stages consist of retired
Peacekeeper rocket motors while its fourth and fifth stage motors are
commercial Star 48 and Star 37 motors, respectively.
Orbital has launched a total of 16 Minotaur vehicles with a perfect
mission success record, beginning with the inaugural mission in January
2000. Eight of the missions have been carried out by the Minotaur I
space launch vehicle (SLV) configuration and eight by the Minotaur II
suborbital target launch vehicle (TLV). Currently, there are 11
additional Minotaur missions on Orbital’s upcoming launch manifest,
including the inaugural launch of the Minotaur IV rocket, scheduled to
boost the Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite into orbit for
the U.S. Air Force later in 2009.
About the Minotaur Product Line
The Minotaur launch vehicle product line consists of the only proven
launch vehicles currently capable of supporting the U.S. Department of
Defense’s evolving Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) space launch
requirements, as well as long-range target delivery for missile defense
and technology demonstration missions. They are specifically designed to
be capable of launching from all major U.S. spaceports, including
government and commercial launch sites in Alaska, California, Florida
and Virginia. In addition, the minimal amount of specialized ground
infrastructure that is required to support Minotaur launches enable them
to be employed at other U.S. launch sites. Orbital’s use of standardized
avionics and subsystems, mature processes and experienced personnel make
Minotaur rockets both reliable and cost-effective for U.S. government
In addition to Minotaur V, Orbital’s Minotaur product line currently
consists of the following configurations:
Minotaur I - The initial member of the Minotaur family, the
Minotaur I is a four-stage space launch configuration that can place
up to 1,300 lbs. into low-Earth orbit. It was originally launched in
January 2000 and has conducted a total of eight successful launches to
Minotaur II - A three-stage suborbital rocket, the Minotaur II
is used as a target vehicle for testing U.S. missile defense systems
and related missions. This configuration also has performed eight
successful launches to date.
Minotaur III - A three-stage suborbital rocket, Minotaur III
can deliver suborbital technology demonstration payloads of up to
6,500 lbs. or serve as a target vehicle for testing U.S. missile
defense systems and similar missions.
Minotaur IV - A heavier-lift four-stage space launch vehicle
using retired Peacekeeper rocket motors, the Minotaur IV is capable of
launching satellites weighing up to 3,800 lbs. into low-Earth orbit.
The first Minotaur IV mission is currently in final preparations to
launch the SBSS satellite for the U.S. Air Force in late 2009.
Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and
space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers.
The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles,
including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary
spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense
missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other
missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into
orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and
target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and
space-related technical services to government agencies and laboratories.
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Source: Orbital Sciences Corporation
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528
and Investor Relations