Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Orbital Completes Minotaur IV Launch Vehicle Pathfinder Operations

The completion of the pathfinder testing activities is a critical milestone in the development of the Minotaur IV launch vehicle.
by Staff Writers
Dulles VA (SPX) Sep 18, 2008
Orbital Sciences has announced that it has completed the full-scale "pathfinder" ground operations of the Minotaur IV space launch vehicle in preparation for its inaugural flight that is currently scheduled to take place in early 2009.

The ground testing activities included the assembly of a full-scale Minotaur IV rocket, using inert rocket motors and flight-qualified structures to fully validate all interfaces with the booster, ground support equipment and facility structures.

The pathfinder operations were overseen by representatives from the U.S. Air Force organizations that will play critical roles in the Minotaur IV launch operations.

These include the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the U.S. Air Force Space and Development Test Wing, and 30th Space Wing based at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California. The Spaceport Systems International launch pad at VAFB will be the launch site for all three Minotaur IV missions planned in 2009.

"The completion of our pathfinder ground operations test is a major step forward as we proceed toward the inaugural launch of the Minotaur IV launch vehicle," said Mr. Lou Amorosi, Orbital's Vice President with responsibility for its entire Minotaur launch vehicle product line.

"In conjunction with our customers and partners that will play vital roles during actual launch operations, we are taking a very methodical and comprehensive approach to ensuring that all aspects of the launch vehicle preparations, ground operations and range safety systems are meticulously planned, rehearsed and reviewed."

The completion of the pathfinder testing activities is a critical milestone in the development of the Minotaur IV launch vehicle.

It serves as a rehearsal of all hazardous lifting operations, a fit-check for all vital rocket and ground interfaces, a final test of the mission's ground support equipment, and a checkout of vehicle integration procedures. The extensive pre-launch activities also enhance training of the launch crew and facility personnel.

Prior to beginning the pathfinder operations, procedures for all hazardous operations were approved by range safety officials and the ground support equipment involved in the procedures was proof-tested to range safety standards prior to use.

The pathfinder operation was the final test of new Minotaur IV structures, which had recently been fully-qualified to military-standard levels.

During the pathfinder, the various vehicle stages and components were transported, assembled and stacked at the launch site. Once the vehicle was fully assembled, a day-of-launch shelter rollback was rehearsed. Subsequent to those operations, abort operations were also rehearsed and timed before the vehicle was de-stacked and transported back to the integration facility.

The ground operations also included rehearsal of spacecraft encapsulation procedures within the launch vehicle fairing.

The Minotaur IV design provides for separate spacecraft encapsulation, which is an enabling procedure for Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) missions, by streamlining the time and sequence of spacecraft encapsulation. Spacecraft can be selected for launch, mated, encapsulated and transported to the launch site independent of other launch vehicle or range operations.

Related Links
Orbital Sciences
Launch Pad at

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Sea Launch Prepares For The Launch Of Galaxy 19
Long Beach CA (SPX) Sep 15, 2008
The Sea Launch vessels have departed Sea Launch Home Port and are now on their way to the Equator for the launch of Intelsat's Galaxy 19 satellite, on September 23. Liftoff is planned for 2:28am Pacific Daylight Time (9:28 GMT), at the opening of a two-hour launch window.

  • Grant For Eco-Friendly Rocket Engine
  • College Students Develop Rocket Motors In Tamil Nadu
  • US marks Ares milestone in next chapter of manned space flight
  • Pratt And Whitney Rocketdyne To Further Test J-2X

  • Proton Launch Of Nimiq 4 Satellite Postponed
  • Orbital Completes Minotaur IV Launch Vehicle Pathfinder Operations
  • Sea Launch Prepares For The Launch Of Galaxy 19
  • New Impulse To Russian Rockets

  • Endeavour's move to launch pad set
  • NASA adjusts launch dates
  • Shuttle Atlantis At The Pad For Final Hubble Mission
  • Will NASA Retire The Space Shuttle In 2010

  • Resupply spacecraft docks with International Space Station
  • Hurricane Ike's impact felt at International Space Station: NASA
  • Russia To Launch Progress M-65 Space Freighter To ISS
  • Russia's Progress Spacecraft Buried In Pacific Ocean

  • Building A New Rocket For The Nation
  • Actel Launches Flash-Based FPGAs Into Space
  • US astronaut promotes Mexican space agency
  • NASA's Ares I Rocket Passes Review To Reach Critical Milestone

  • China's Second Generation Of Astronauts Draws Concern At Home And Abroad
  • Fighter pilot to be China's first space walker: govt
  • Short Flight For Shenzhou 7
  • New Crews For Shenzhou

  • iRobot Awarded US Army Contract For Robotic Systems
  • Robots Learn To Follow
  • Robot-assisted surgery repairs fistulas
  • Japanese Researchers Eye e-Skin For Robots

  • Surface Water May Have Existed Far Longer On Some Parts Of Mars
  • More Soil Delivered To Phoenix Lab
  • NASA Selects CU-Boulder To Lead Mars Mission
  • Opportunity Bids Farewell To Victoria

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement