Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it is in final preparations to launch a Minotaur IV rocket in support of the Air Force’s Space Test Program-S26 (STP-S26) mission. The rocket will carry four microsatellites, two CubeSats, and perform a technology demonstration into low-Earth orbit. Subject to final preparations and favorable weather conditions, the mission will originate from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, AK on November 19, 2010, with a targeted launch time of 8:24 p.m. (EST) and a 90-minute available launch window that extends until 9:54 p.m. (EST).
The STP-S26 launch will be the second Minotaur IV orbital mission in less than two months, following the successful launch of the U.S. Air Force’s Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite in late September from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. It will also be the third overall launch for the Minotaur IV vehicle, which debuted in April 2010 with a successful suborbital flight, launching the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s HTV-2a mission.
The STP-S26 mission will be demonstrating a new capability for Minotaur IV, called the Multiple Payload Platform (MPP), addressing the needs of small satellite customers. Several key facts about this new capability are as follows:
- The addition of a restartable Hydrazine fifth stage enables the deployment of spacecraft at multiple orbital altitudes, allowing unique mission tailoring and cost sharing. Small satellites requiring different orbits can share the cost of the same vehicle.
- The MPP enables the deployment of up to 12 small satellites, consisting of four ESPA-class satellites, four smaller secondary satellites (up to 11 cubic feet each), and four P-POD carriers.
“Orbital is privileged to be supporting the Air Force on this important mission for the Space Development and Test Wing. Building upon the success of the first two Minotaur IV launches, we are excited about delivering this new capability for the small satellite community,” said Lou Amorosi, Orbital’s Senior Vice President for Minotaur launch vehicles.