Air Force Orders Minotaur 1 for a 2013 Launch of ORS-3

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The U.S. Air Force has ordered a Minotaur 1 launch vehicle from Orbital Sciences Corp. to support a 2013 launch the ORS-3 Enabler mission for the Defense Department’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, according to an Orbital Sciences press release issued April 3.

The missions will be the Minotaur 1 rocket’s fifth launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va.

The Minotaur 1, which has launched 10 times without fail since its successful 2000 debut, is a four-stage solid fuel launch vehicle that uses rocket motors from decommissioned Minuteman missiles for its first and second stages.

Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences conducted two Minotaur 1 launches in 2011: a February launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., of a classified technology demonstration satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office; and a June launch from Wallops of ORS-1.

Orbital Sciences Corp. provides the U.S. government with Minotaur launches under an Air Force Orbital/Suborbital Program contract awarded in 1997 and renewed in 2002.