ORBITAL SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES NASA'S LADEE SPACECRAFT ABOARD MINOTAUR V ROCKET
-- Mission is 24th Consecutive Successful Launch of Minotaur Product Line --
(Dulles, VA 7 September 2013) - 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."
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.
Under the Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP) contract, which is managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Space Development and Test Directorate (SMC/SD) Launch Systems Division (SMC/SDL) located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Orbital designs, integrates, tests and provides launch services to orbit with the Minotaur I, IV, V and VI rockets, as well as other suborbital capabilities with the Minotaur II and III configurations. The company has launched a total of 23 Minotaur rockets with a 100% success record dating back to January 2000.
Employing a combination of U.S. government-supplied rocket motors and Orbital's proven commercial launch technologies, the Minotaur family of launchers provides reliable and low-cost access to space for government-sponsored payloads. The rockets are specifically designed to be capable of launching from all major U.S. spaceports, including government and commercial launch sites in Alaska, California, Virginia and Florida. 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 customers.
In addition to the Minotaur V rocket, the product line includes:
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 10 successful launches to date.
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 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. Five successful launches have been conducted with this configuration.
Minotaur VI - An evolutionary version of the flight-proven Minotaur IV, the Minotaur VI provides a highly-capable and cost-effective launcher for U.S. Government-sponsored spacecraft of up to 7,000 lbs. into low-Earth orbit. The combination of four government-furnished solid rocket stages, a commercial solid rocket upper stage, and Orbital's flight-proven systems and processes provide unmatched value and performance.
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. More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com. Follow the company on Twitter @OrbitalSciences.
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Barron Beneski (703) 406-5528
Public and Investor Relations
Orbital Sciences Corporation