Minotaur I

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Minotaur I
Minotaur I with NFIRE at MARS
FunctionSmall expendable launch system
ManufacturerNorthrop Grumman
Country of originUnited States
Height19.21 metres (63.0 ft)
Diameter1.67 metres (5 ft 6 in)
Mass36,200 kilograms (79,800 lb)
Stages4 or 5
Payload to LEO580 kilograms (1,280 lb)
Payload to SSO331 kilograms (730 lb)
Launch history
Launch sitesVandenberg SLC-8
Total launches11
First flight27 January 2000
Last flight20 November 2013
First stage – M55A1
Engines1 Solid
Thrust935 kilonewtons (210,000 lbf)
Second stage – SR19
Engines1 Solid
Thrust268 kilonewtons (60,000 lbf)
Third stage – Orion 50XL
Engines1 Solid
Thrust118.2 kilonewtons (26,600 lbf)
Burn time74 seconds
Fourth stage – Orion 38
Engines1 Solid
Thrust34.8 kilonewtons (7,800 lbf)
Burn time68 seconds

The Minotaur I, or just Minotaur is an American expendable launch system derived from the Minuteman II missile. It is used to launch small satellites for the US Government, and is a member of the Minotaur family of rockets produced by Orbital Sciences Corporation.


The Minotaur I was the follow-on to the Orbital Sciences' Taurus (later re-named the "Minotaur-C"[1]) launch vehicle, combining the original Taurus's booster stage with a second stage from a Minuteman missile.

Minotaur I rockets consist of the M55A1 first stage and SR19 second stage of a decommissioned Minuteman missile.[2] The Orion 50XL and Orion 38, from the Pegasus rocket, are used as third and fourth stages. A HAPS (Hydrazine Auxiliary Propulsion System) upper stage can also be flown if greater precision is needed, or the rocket needs to be able to manoeuvre to deploy multiple payloads.[3] It can place up to 580 kilograms (1,280 lb) of payload into a 185-kilometer (115 mi) low Earth orbit at 28.5 degrees of inclination.[2]

Initially Minotaur I launches were conducted from Space Launch Complex 8 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. Starting with the launch of TacSat-2 in December 2006, launches have also been conducted from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.[3]

Launch history[edit]

There have been eleven launches of the Minotaur I, all successful.

Date (UTC) Rocket Flight Payload Launch pad Trajectory Result
January 27, 2000
Minotaur I 1 JAWSat (P98-1) (FalconSat1 / ASUSat1 / OCSE / OPAL) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[4]
July 19, 2000
Minotaur I 2 MightySat II.1 (Sindri, P99-1) / MEMS 2A / MEMS 2B Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[5]
April 11, 2005
Minotaur I 3 XSS-11 Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[6]
September 23, 2005
Minotaur I 4 Streak (STP-R1) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[7]
April 15, 2006
Minotaur I 5 COSMIC (FORMOSAT-3) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[8]
December 16, 2006
Minotaur I 6 TacSat-2 / GeneSat-1 MARS LP-0B LEO Success[9]
April 24, 2007
Minotaur I 7 NFIRE MARS LP-0B LEO Success[10]
May 19, 2009
Minotaur I 8 TacSat-3 MARS LP-0B LEO Success[11]
February 6, 2011
Minotaur I 9 USA-225 (NROL-66) Vandenberg SLC-8 LEO Success[12]
June 30, 2011
Minotaur I 10 ORS-1 MARS LP-0B LEO Success[13]
November 20, 2013
Minotaur I 11 ORS-3,[14] STPSat-3 and 28 CubeSat satellites[15] MARS LP-0B LEO Success[16]
2nd Quarter[17] 2019 Minotaur I 12 NROL-111[18] MARS LP-0B LEO(?) Planned[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen (24 February 2014). "Taurus rocket on the market with new name, upgrades". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Minotaur I Space Launch Vehicle—Fact Sheet" (PDF). Orbital Sciences Corporation. 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-28. Spacecraft mass-to-orbit of up to 580 kg to LEO (28.5 deg, 185 km)
  3. ^ a b "Minotaur I User's Guide - Release 3.0" (PDF). Orbital Sciences Corporation. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  4. ^ Ray, Justin. "Spaceflight Now - Minotaur Mission Report - Mission Status Center - JAWSAT". Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  5. ^ Ray, Justin. "Spaceflight Now - Minotaur Mission Report - Mission Status Center - Mightysat 2.1". Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  6. ^ Ray, Justin. "Minotaur rocket launches U.S. military spacecraft". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  7. ^ Ray, Justin. "Rocket launch paints sky with breath-taking scene". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  8. ^ Ray, Justin. "Spaceflight Now - Minotaur Mission Report - Mission Status Center - COSMIC". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  9. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Minotaur rocket makes sunrise ascent from Virginia". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  10. ^ Ray, Justin. "Missile research spacecraft soars into orbit from Virginia". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  11. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Minotaur lofts experimental satellite for U.S. military". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket for U.S. Air Force". Orbital Sciences Corporation. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket Carrying ORS-1 Satellite for the U.S. Air Force". Orbital Sciences Corporation. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Media Accreditation Open for ORS-3 Mission from Wallops in November". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Orbital's Minotaur I successfully lofts multitude of payloads". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur I Rocket Supporting ORS-3 Mission for the U.S. Air Force". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  17. ^ https://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/
  18. ^ "Minotaur rocket launch for NRO expected at Wallops by end of 2018". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  19. ^ Pietrobon, Steven (5 November 2018). "United States Military Manifest". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
Minotaur I Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops, June 30, 2011. See table (above) for details.