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Rockets of Orbital

Pegasus-XL rocket illustration. Taurus rocket illustration. Minotaur I rocket illustration. Minotaur II target booster illustration. Minotaur III rocket illustration. Minotaur IV rocket illustration. Minotaur 5 rocket illustration. Antares rocket illustration. 1.8 Meter Human Figure

Left to right: Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur I, Minotaur II, Minotaur III, Minotaur IV, Minotaur V, Antares, Human figure for scale (1.8m tall).

Pegasus Rocket

Pegasus-XL rocket illustration.

Pegasus is an air launched space launch vehicle. All three stages use Orion solid motors.

Pegasus first flew in 1990. An improved model, known as Pegasus XL, started flying in 1994. The XL model features lengthened first and second stage motors.

Most missions are launched from beneath a modified Lockheed L-1011 aircraft. Early missions were launched from a B-52 Stratofortress.

Pegasus-XL rocket stages.
Pegasus-XL Rocket Stages

First Stage

Pegasus XL uses an Orion 50S XL as its first stage. The 50S XL has a fixed nozzle.

Second Stage

Second stage is an Orion 50XL.

Third Stage

An Orion 38 serves as third stage. The Orion 38 includes a vectorable thrust nozzle.

Pegasus-XL

Pegasus-XL on display at the Udvar-Hazy center. (Photos: Richard Kruse, 2008)

Pegasus-XL rocket Pegasus-XL rocket tail Pegasus-XL rocket mid body Pegasus-XL rocket front section Pegasus-XL rocket nose section Front view ofPegasus-XL

Taurus

Taurus rocket illustration.

The Taurus is a four-stage, all solid propelled launch vehicle.

Taurus has flown nine missions between 1994 and 2011. Three of the nine launches failed.

The rockets third and fourth stages are similar to those used with the Pegasus launch vehicle.

Taurus rocket stages.
Taurus Rocket Stages
Illustration showing typical Taurus stages. Actual configurations vary depending on requirements.

First Stage (Stage 0)

The Taurus typically uses a Castor-120 as its first stage. On some models, a Peacekeeper first stage is used.

Second Stage (Stage 1)

Second stage can be either an Orion 50ST or 50SXLT. Both models feature a vectorable thrust nozzle.

Third Stage (Stage 2)

The third stage is an Orion 50T or Orion 50XLT. Both models feature a vectorable thrust nozzle.

Fourth Stage (Stage 3)

An Orion 38 serves as fourth stage. The Orion 38 includes a vectorable thrust nozzle.

Minotaur

Minotaur Space Launch Vehicles

Comparison of Minuteman, Peacekeeper, and Minotaur rockets.
Comparison of Minuteman, Peacekeeper, and Minotaur Rockets
(View Larger Version)

Operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Minotaur series of launchers are derived from Minuteman and Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile hardware.

For more information, visit the Orbital website.


Minotaur I rocket illustration.

Minotaur I

Minotaur I is an all solid fueled, four stage space launcher. The first and second stages were formally used with the Minuteman ICBM.

The rockets third and fourth stages are similar to those used with the Pegasus launch vehicle.

Minotaur rocket stages.
Minotaur I Rocket Stages

First Stage

First stage of the Minotaur rocket is a refurbished Minuteman II M55A1 solid rocket motor. The four nozzles are gimbaled to provide thrust vector control.

Second Stage

A refurbished Minuteman SR-19 solid rocket motor serves as second stage. The SR-19 features thrust vector control using liquid injection. Roll control is provided by a hot gas system.

Third Stage

Third stage is an Orion 50XL. Built by ATK, the 50XL features a vectorable nozzle.

Fourth Stage

An ATK Orion 38 serves as the fourth stage. The motor has a vectorable nozzle.

Minuteman III ICBM

Minuteman III on display at the National Air and Space Museum. (Photos: Richard Kruse, 2008)

Minuteman III Missile Minuteman III Missile first stage Minuteman III Missile interstage Minuteman III Missile Minuteman III Missile first stage Looking up at Minuteman III Missile Minuteman III first and second stage Minuteman III Missile

Minotaur II target booster illustration.

Minotaur II

Minotaur II is a sub-orbital target vehicle launcher. The rocket uses the first three stages from former Minuteman II ballistic missiles.

Minotaur 2 rocket stages.
Minotaur II Rocket Stages

Minotaur III rocket illustration.

Minotaur III

The Minotaur III is intended for suborbital launches and uses the first three stages of decommissioned PeaceKeeper (MX) ballistic missiles. A hydrazine fueled fourth stage is included.


Minotaur IV rocket illustration.

Minotaur IV

The Minotaur IV's first three stages were formally used with the PeaceKeeper (MX) ballistic missile.

The Minotaur IV first flew in April 2010.

Minotaur 4 rocket stages.
Minotaur IV Rocket Stages

First Stage

First stage of the Minotaur IV is a SR-118 solid rocket motor.

Second Stage

Second stage is a refurbished SR-119 motor.

Third Stage

An SR-120 motor serves as third stage.

Fourth Stage

Fourth stage is typically an Orion 38 solid rocket motor. A Star 48BV may also be used if required.


Minotaur 5 rocket illustration.

Minotaur V

The Minotaur V is a five stage version of the Minotaur IV. The first three stages were formally used with the Peacekeeper (MX) ballistic missile.

The first Minotaur V mission sucessfully placed the LADEE spacecraft into orbit. The launch took place on 6 September 2013 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Minotaur 5 rocket stages.
Minotaur V Rocket Stages

First Stage

First stage of the Minotaur V is an SR-118 solid rocket motor.

Second Stage

Second stage is a refurbished SR-119 motor.

Third Stage

An SR-120 motor serves as third stage.

Fourth Stage

Fourth stage is a STAR 48BV solid rocket motor.

Fifth Stage

The rockets fifth stage is a STAR 37FM solid rocket motor.

Antares

Antares rocket illustration.
Cygnus Spacecraft illustration.
Cygnus Spacecraft
The Cygnus spacecraft is designed as a re-supply vehicle for the International Space Station.

Developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Antares rocket is designed to launch over 5,000 kg into low Earth orbit.

The rockets maiden flight, occurring in April 2013, was successful. The rocket was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located near NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

First Stage

The first stage uses two AJ26-58 engines. These enginges are modified Russian NK-33 engines. The NK-33 engines were originally designed and built for use on the Soviet N-1 Moon rocket and have been in storage for several decades.

The engines use RP-1 and liquid oxygen as propellents.

Second Stage

The second stage uses a solid-fueled Castor 30 motor. After the first few flights, the second stage will be upgraded to the larger Castor30XL motor.

Third Stage

Later versions may optionally use a STAR-48 based, solid-fueled third stage motor. A bi-propellant stage is also planned.

Cygnus

A regular payload for the Antares rocket will be the Cygnus spacecraft. Cygnus was developed to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. Known as CRS, or commercial resupply missions, these flights are scheduled to occur around twice per year.

Antares Launches
FlightLaunch
Date
Launch
Site
Ver.Primary
Payload
MissionResults
5 28 Oct 2014 MARS LP-0A 1.0CygnusCRS Orb-3, Resupply of ISS.Failure
4 13 Jul 2014 MARS LP-0A 1.0CygnusCRS Orb-2, Resupply of ISS.Success
3 9 Jan 2014 MARS LP-0A 1.0CygnusCRS Orb-1, Resupply of ISS.Success
2 18 Sep 2013 MARS LP-0A 1.0CygnusOrb-D1, First Cygnus berthing with ISS.Success
1 21 Apr 2013 MARS LP-0A 1.0---Test flight of Antares rocket.Success

NOTE: MARS LP-0A = Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Launch Pad 0A.

For more information about Antares, can be found at the Orbital website.

Creative Commons License Images by Richard Kruse are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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