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Samstag, 26. August 2017 - 18:40 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Minotaur 4 auf Cape Canaveral

6.08.2017

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Build-up begins for first Minotaur rocket launch from Cape Canaveral

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File photo of a Minotaur 4 rocket before a launch from Kodiak Island, Alaska. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Ground crews at a long-dormant launch pad at Cape Canaveral are stacking surplus military missile motors for the Aug. 25 launch of a Minotaur 4 rocket with a satellite designed to track orbital traffic thousands of miles above Earth.

The process to construct the Minotaur 4 rocket began with the hoisting of the launcher’s first stage at pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The lower three solid-fueled stages of the Minotaur 4 come from the Air Force’s stockpile of decommissioned Peacekeeper missiles deployed in the 1980s to hurl nuclear weapons to targets around the world.

A spokesperson for Orbital ATK, which operates the Minotaur family in agreement with the U.S. Air Force, confirmed stacking of the Minotaur 4 booster recently started at Cape Canaveral.

Liftoff is set for Aug. 25 at 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT on Aug. 26), the opening of a four-hour launch window.

The Minotaur 4 is typically made of four stages — the three Peacekeeper motors and an additional commercial Orion 38 solid rocket on top — to send military satellites into orbit. Minotaur 4 variants have launched payloads into orbit on three occasions from Kodiak Island, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and a shortened three-stage version has launched two times on suborbital missions.

The build-up of the next Minotaur 4 rocket at launch pad 46 should be complete by mid-August, along with the attachment of SensorSat, a microsatellite designed to locate and monitor movements of spacecraft and debris in geosynchronous orbit, a belt more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

SensorSat will go into a unique equatorial orbit at an altitude of around 372 miles (600 kilometers). The mission’s unusual equator-hugging orbit required engineers to add an additional Orion 38 upper stage, making the Minotaur 4 set to launch later this month a five-stage booster.

The final Orion 38 motor burn will reduce the angle of the ORS-5 satellite’s orbit, redirecting the spacecraft to fly over the equator.

This illustration of SensorSat is the only one released by the Air Force. Many details about the mission remain secret. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Some details of SensorSat’s mission remain secret, but the satellite will be a gap-filler to provide geosynchronous tracking data to the military after the retirement of the Space Based Space Surveillance, or SBSS, satellite launched in 2010, which is nearing the end of its design life.

A follow-on space surveillance satellite is scheduled for launch in the early 2020s.

SensorSat is funded by the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space office, a division established in 2007 to seek less expensive ways to field satellites and launch opportunities for the military. The Air Force also calls the space surveillance mission ORS-5, and the spacecraft was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.

With a mass between 175 and 250 pounds (approximately 80 to 110 kilograms), SensorSat will collect “unresolved visible imagery of resident space objects in geosynchronous orbit from a novel low Earth orbit,” according to information posted on Lincoln Laboratory’s website.

Pad 46 last hosted a space launch in 1999, when a Lockheed Martin Athena rocket took off with an experimental Taiwanese satellite. Located on the easternmost tip of Cape Canaveral, the launch pad was dormant until Space Florida, a state government agency set up to lure commercial aerospace business to the Sunshine State, took over the facility and brokered the deal to bring Orbital ATK’s Minotaur rocket to the Space Coast.

Technicians partially assembled an inert Minotaur 4 rocket at pad 46 earlier this year to rehearse stacking procedures.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 19.08.2017

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Air Force, mission partners prepare satellite for August launch

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory engineering team stands in front of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-5 satellite in the MIT LL clean room at the Lexington, Massachusetts facility, prior to shipment for final processing and stacking atop an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV launch vehicle at Launch Complex 46, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. From left to right: Joe Warfel - Assembly Technician; Michele Weatherwax - Mechanical Engineer; Al Pillsbury - Mechanical Engineer; Marshall Solomon - Thermal Engineer, and; Eui Lee - Thermal Engineer. (Courtesy photo: MIT LL)

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The engineering team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts perform a light leak test on the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-5 satellite prior to shipment for launch. ORS-5, also known as SensorSat, is a single satellite constellation with a primary mission to provide space situational awareness. It will operate from a low (zero degree inclination) orbit 372 miles above the earth to aid the U.S. military's tracking of other satellites and space debris in geosynchronous orbit, commonly used by defense-related communications satellites, television broadcasting stations, and international space platforms 22,236 miles above the equator. (Photo: MIT LL)

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ORS-5, also known as SensorSat, is a single satellite constellation with a primary mission to provide space situational awareness. It measures about five feet long, two and a half feet wide, and weighs about 250 pounds. It will operate from a low, zero inclination orbit approximately 372 miles above the earth to aid the U.S. military's tracking of other satellites and space debris in geosynchronous orbit, 22,236 miles above the equator, commonly used by defense-related communications satellites, television broadcasting stations, and international space platforms. (Courtesy photo: MIT LL)

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The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-5 satellite, also known as SensorSat, undergoes thermal vacuum testing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts prior to shipment for processing and integration atop an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV launch vehicle. Scheduled for launch on Aug. 25, 2017, ORS-5 is a single satellite constellation with a primary mission to provide space situational awareness at a significantly reduced cost compared to larger, more complex satellites. (Courtesy photo: MIT LL)

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LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- 

The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Operationally Responsive Space Office completed a major program milestone after overseeing the successful delivery of their ORS-5 satellite from Lexington, Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida for final processing, encapsulation, stacking and integration for launch. 

 

The ORS-5 satellite is scheduled for launch Aug. 25 at 11:15 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

 

“The delivery and upcoming launch of ORS-5 marks a significant milestone in fulfilling our commitment to the space situational awareness mission and U.S. Strategic Command,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for Space. “It’s an important asset for the warfighter and will be employed for at least three years.” 

Upon its delivery, the ORS-5 satellite, also known as SensorSat, was processed for encapsulation in the Astrotech Space Operations Florida processing facility.

A combined government and contractor team of mission partners executed final ground activities including a Launch Base Compatibility Test to verify satellite integrity after shipment, an intersegment test to verify communication compatibility from the satellite to the on-orbit operations center and the final battery reconditioning for launch, prior to its integration with the Minotaur IV launch vehicle. 

 

 “This is my first launch as the ORS director, and I am thrilled to see this mission get one step closer to operational capability,” said Col. Shahnaz Punjani, director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. “As a former launch group commander, it is also very exciting to be part of the first Minotaur launch from Cape Canaveral.  Our partners at the 45th Space Wing, Orbital ATK, and Space Florida did a tremendous job restoring Launch Complex 46 to active service and preparing it for this launch.”  

The satellite was transported from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory facility in Lexington, Massachusetts, in a customized shipping container. The transport crew ensured the satellite was transported safely and according to the time sensitive schedule.

“The safe transport, processing and integration of ORS-5 to the Minotaur IV launch vehicle was paramount and the total government and contractor team worked tirelessly to ensure mission success,” Thompson reiterated.

Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems.  Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

Quelle: USAF

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Update: 21.08.2017

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Assembly complete for Minotaur launcher at Cape Canaveral

 
A view of pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where crews have stacked a Minotaur 4 rocket for launch Aug. 25. Credit: Orbital ATK

Using industrial cranes at a no-frills launch pad on the eastern tip of Cape Canaveral, a team of Orbital ATK and U.S. Air Force technicians have fully stacked a modified Cold War-era missile set for launch next week with a $49 million satellite built to track other objects in orbit.

The Minotaur 4 rocket, made up of five solid-fueled stages, is scheduled to fire into space from pad 46 at Cape Canaveral next Friday night, Aug. 25, at 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT on Aug. 26).

The mission has a four-hour window to lift off, or else wait until another day.

The spacecraft closed up inside the Minotaur 4’s nose cone is named SensorSat. Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, the Air Force-funded mission will spend three years scanning orbital traffic lanes, detecting and tracking satellites and space debris in a belt nearly 22,300 miles (35,800 kilometers) over the equator.

Objects at that altitude remain over fixed geographic positions on Earth, making geostationary orbit an ideal location for military and commercial communications satellites, weather observatories, and intelligence-gathering spy craft.

SensorSat is managed by the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space division, an office established in 2007 to investigate lower-cost satellites and launchers. The Air Force calls the mission ORS-5, the latest in a line of projects aimed at testing out new satellite and launch innovations.

“The delivery and upcoming launch of ORS-5 marks a significant milestone in fulfilling our commitment to the space situational awareness mission and U.S. Strategic Command,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space. “It’s an important asset for the warfighter and will be employed for at least three years.”

Next week’s nighttime blastoff will mark the first Minotaur launch from Cape Canaveral. Five Minotaur 4 rockets have launched on suborbital and orbital missions since 2010 from sites in California and Alaska.

File photo of a previous Minotaur 4 launch from Alaska. Credit: Orbital ATK/William G. Hartenstein

The three main rocket motors that will power the Minotaur 4 into space came from stockpiles left over from the Air Force’s retired nuclear-tipped Peacekeeper missiles. The rocket motors were filled with pre-packed solid fuel in the 1980s, then placed on alert in missile silos until the military decommissioned the Peacekeeper.

Two commercially-produced Orion 38 rocket motors built by Orbital ATK, the company charged with operating the Minotaur, will do the extra lifting to place SensorSat into orbit.

The Minotaur 4 usually flies with a single Orion 38 motor as a fourth stage, but SensorSat’s unusual orbit requires another boost.

The fifth stage motor will give the relatively small 249-pound (113-kilogram) SensorSat satellite a kick into an equator-hugging orbit at an altitude of approximately 372 miles (600 kilometers) at zero degrees inclination.

The Air Force paid $27.2 million for the launch, opting for a commercial-like launch service to keep costs to a minimum. Orbital ATK considered basing the launch from a Minotaur pad at Wallops Island, Virginia, but the site is too far north to reach the equatorial orbit needed on the ORS-5 mission.

Another option Orbital ATK briefly considered was setting up a temporary Minotaur launch pad at the European-run spaceport in French Guiana, just north of the equator, but Cape Canaveral eventually became the best choice once engineers devised a way to add another rocket motor on top of the Minotaur 4.

Ground crews at pad 46 topped off the Minotaur rocket Tuesday with the addition of the SensorSat satellite and the Orion 38 fifth stage motor already closed up inside the launcher’s nose shroud.

The first four stages of the Minotaur 4 will fire in quick succession in the first 15 minutes of the flight to climb into a preliminary parking orbit between around 248 miles and 372 miles (400 to 600 kilometers) above Earth. That temporary orbit will have a tilt of approximately 24.5 degrees to the equator.

The SensorSat, or ORS-5, satellites prepares for thermal vacuum testing. Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

During the 10-minute coast until ignition of the fifth stage motor, the Minotaur will release two CubeSats for an undisclosed U.S. government agency, and a three-unit shoebox-sized CubeSat for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

Seattle-based Spaceflight made arrangements for the CubeSats launching on the Minotaur 4.

The Minotaur’s last firing will last a little over a minute.

“The way to think of that fifth stage is it’s an insertion stage,” said Phil Joyce, vice president of small launch programs at Orbital ATK. “We used the standard Minotaur 4 to put us in a parking orbit … And then that fifth stage Orion 38 is there to circularize and to do the plane change down to equatorial.”

With stacking of the Minotaur 4 now complete, attention turns to testing the rocket.

“Now we’re in the process of our post-stack verification tests,” said Terry Luchi, Orbital ATK’s Minotaur program manager. “This is where we’ll go through a series of avionics tests and verify that everything is still playing as expected.”

A full mission dress rehearsal with the pad team and launch controllers is scheduled for Monday. The rest of the week leading up to launch day will be spent installing ordnance and preparing to arm the vehicle.

Luchi said the Minotaur team had to work around a busy launch manifest at Cape Canaveral. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off last Monday, Aug. 14, and a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster launched Friday.

“This is the first time that we’ll take Minotaur out of the Cape. We have some experience in the past on other vehicles, but bringing Minotaur to the Cape obviously presents some challenges,” Luchi said in an interview with Spaceflight Now.

Orbital ATK is preparing the Minotaur 4 for launch at pad 46, a rarely-used facility operated by Space Florida, the state government agency chartered to lure commercial aerospace business to the area. The last launch from pad 46 occurred in 1999.

The Minotaur launch team raised three inert Peacekeeper stages at pad 46 earlier this year in a pathfinder test to familiarize themselves with the ground facilities and verify their compatibility.

The Air Force-run Eastern Range is also getting acquainted with the Minotaur for the first time.

While there are no more Minotaur missions from Cape Canaveral on Orbital ATK’s manifest, Luchi said the experience gained on the ORS-5 campaign could set the stage for future Florida-based flights.

“I think we’re done with this one time (at Cape Canaveral), it’s going to be all that much easier in the future,” Luchi said.

Orbital ATK has one more Minotaur 1 launch in its backlog from Wallops Island, Virginia, in late 2018. That flight, using a smaller version of the Minotaur based on retired Minuteman missile stages, will loft a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Joyce said Orbital ATK anticipates future Minotaur launch contracts from the U.S. government for small-class satellites. Because they use government-furnished rocket motors, the Minotaur 1 and 4 families are restricted from competing for commercial launch awards, a U.S. government policy that has drawn the ire of Orbital ATK, which sees privately-owned satellites in the Minotaur’s lift envelope, including many U.S. payloads, going up on Indian, Russian and European launchers.

Proponents of the policy say that selling already-built missile motors into the commercial launch market would dampen innovation and keep new companies from introducing commercial rockets.

Several companies are working on commercial small satellite launch vehicles. Some have major strides, including a full-up test flight in the case of the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, but none have successfully placed a payload into orbit.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 23.08.2017

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1st ASTS provides critical support for Minotaur launch at Cape



File image of the Minotaur rocket at an earlier launch campaign at Wallops.

The 1st Air and Space Test Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base will be assisting with the first ever Minotaur IV launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The 1st ASTS team coordinated the transport for the first three stages of the engine to Cape Canaveral AFS where they will provide support through the day of launch.

The Minotaur IV is an expendable launch system derived from an old Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

"We have specialized equipment here, where we stack the Minotaur and make sure they are good to go," said Capt. Julian Martinez, 1st ASTS mission integrator.

"The upcoming launch at Canaveral is a Minotaur IV vehicle, which is an old peacekeeper system. There are five stages, and the DoD owns the first three. We are the only Air Force blue suit team that is able to maintain, ship and handle all of these rocket components. When we are out there we always get referred to as 'the Air Force guys', because we are the only uniformed personnel that have a direct impact on ground operations."

As the only unit in the Air Force that can stack and transport the Minotaur IV, the 1 ASTS utilizes experienced missile maintainers on a space assignment.

"As a unit we rely heavily on the missile maintainers that have prior experience in the missile fields," said Brian Tafoya, 1st ASTS flight chief.

"Even though we are now on the space launch side of the house, we are able to use the knowledge of the ICBM delivery systems to ensure we do our part in the launch process. It is a bit different than what we are used to. Instead of loading a missile into a silo we get to stack it on a launch pad. Our ICBM experience translates directly into the small space lift mission and is a pretty unique experience."

The primary responsibility of the 1st ASTS is to ensure the launch vehicle is processed and stacked for a successful mission.

"For this upcoming launch from the Cape, we shipped the first three stages out about a month before the projected launch date," said Martinez.

"After the boosters arrive in Florida, we coordinate with the 45th Space Wing to use their cranes to load the boosters onto Minotaur specific trucks called Type-II's, for convoy to the launch pad. After all three stages are stacked on the launch pad, we hand custody off to the launch service provider, Orbital ATK. Stage four and five are owned by Orbital ATK and include the payload, avionics, and instrumentation."

With a low launch tempo for the Minotaur family of vehicles, the 1st ASTS team is constantly training. This prevents future discrepancies and maintains currency.

"We don't launch a lot of these, so one of the ways we stay ready for a real operation is by practicing," said Martinez.

"We run through procedures and talk with quality assurance, keeping everything up to date. This mission will launch August 25th from Cape Canaveral AFS is a pretty monumental event for the whole squadron. The team will be traveling to watch the launch, and perform post-launch equipment recovery."

The team may be small, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in dedication and expertise.

"When we conduct an operation like this, from cradle to grave, it gives us a sense of pride," said Tafoya.

"We have maintained a mission ready posture and now have a chance to prove what we can do. It is always a challenge to stay consistent across a few year gap between missions, but we do, and when we have a Minotaur launch we are mission ready."

Quelle: SD

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Update: 25.08.2017

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Orbital ATK Set to Launch Minotaur IV Rocket Carrying ORS-5 Satellite for the US Air Force
ORS-5 Launch will be 26th Flight for Minotaur Family of Launch Vehicles

Dulles, Virginia 24 August 2017 – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it is in final preparations to launch the company’s Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Friday, August 25, at approximately 11:15 p.m. EDT. The Minotaur IV will carry the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft, which will monitor satellites and space debris to aid the U.S. military’s space situational awareness.

Building on the Minotaur family’s 100 percent success rate, this mission will mark the 26th flight for Orbital ATK’s Minotaur product line and the sixth flight of the Minotaur IV configuration. Minotaur vehicles are based on government-furnished Peacekeeper and Minuteman rocket motors that Orbital ATK has upgraded and integrated with modern avionics and other subsystems to produce an affordable launcher based on reliable, flight-proven hardware. The Minotaur IV is capable of launching payloads up to 4,000 lbs. (or 1,800 kg.) to low-Earth orbit. Minotaur rockets have previously launched from ranges in California, Virginia and Alaska. This will be the company’s first launch of a Minotaur rocket from Launch Complex-46, managed by Space Florida.

“Launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station expands the Minotaur launch vehicle’s capability to meet specific mission requirements for our customer,” said Rich Straka, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicles Division. “We are pleased to be able to provide continued launch support for the ORS office with our reliable Minotaur family of launch vehicles and look forward to a successful launch of the ORS-5 mission.”

The Minotaur product line is provided via the Orbital/Suborbital Program (OSP-3) contract and managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Launch Enterprise, Experimental Launch and Test Division (LE/LEX), and Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Live coverage of the Minotaur launch and details about the mission are available at www.orbitalatk.com.

Quelle: Orbital ATK

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Update: 25.08.2017

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THREAT TRACKING USAF SATELLITE LAUNCHING NIGHTTIME AUG 25 ON CAPE DEBUT OF RETIRED ICBM MINOTAUR ROCKET: WATCH LIVE

 

An Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket carrying the ORS-5 USAF surveillance satellite is slated for its maiden liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida at 11:15 p.m. EDT on August 25, 2017 on a retired ICBM. Credit: U.S. Air Force/Patrick AFB

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL — A gap filling space surveillance satellite that will track orbiting threats for the U.S. Air Force is set for an thrilling nighttime blastoff Friday, Aug. 25 on the maiden mission of the Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral that’s powered by a retired Cold War-era ICBM missile – once armed with nuclear warheads.

The Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket carrying the ORS-5 tracking satellite for the USAF Operationally Responsive Space Office is targeting liftoff just before midnight Friday at 11:15 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

“We are go for launch of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV rocket Friday night,” Orbital ATK confirmed. 

The ORS-5 mission, which stands for Operationally Responsive Space-5, marks the first launch of a Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral and the first use of SLC-46 since 1999. 

The Minotaur IV is a five stage rocket comprised of three stages of a decommissioned Cold War-era Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that has been modified to add two additional Orbital ATK Orion 38 solid rocket motors for the upper stages.

Being a night launch and the first of its kind will surely make for a spectacular sky show.

Plus if you want to see how the world could potentially end in nuclear catastrophy, come watch the near midnight launch of the Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket that’s a retired Peacekeeper ICBM once armed with nuclear warheads aimed at the Russians but now carrying the USAF ORS-5 surveillance satellite instead. 

Its well worth your time if you can watch the Minotaur launch with your own eyeballs. It can be easily viewed from numerous local area beaches, parks, restaurants and more.

Minotaur IV rocket stands at pad 46 with the USAF ORS-5 surveillance satellite for its first launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida on August 25, 2017. Credit: Orbital ATK

Furthermore, its been in a super busy time at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Because, if all goes well Friday’s midnight launch will be the third in just 11 days – and the second in a week! 

A ULA Atlas V launched the NASA TDRS-M science relay satellite last Friday, Aug 18. And a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Dragon CRS-12 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, Aug. 14. 

You can watch the launch live via the Orbital ATK website here: www.orbitalatk.com

The live Orbital ATK broadcast will begin approximately 20 minutes before the launch window opens.

The webcast will be hosted by former CNN space reporter John Zarrella.

The launch window opens at 11:15 p.m. EDT August 25. It extends for four hours until 3:15 a.m. EDT August 26.

In the event of delay for any reason, the next launch opportunity is Saturday, Aug. 26. The launch window remains the same from 11:15 p.m. EDT August 26 to 3:15 a.m. EDT August 27. 

The weather looks somewhat iffy at this time with only a 60% chance of favorable conditions at launch time according to U.S. Air Force meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base. The primary concerns on Aug. 25 are for thick clouds and cumulus clouds.

The weather odds deteriorate to only 40% favorable for the 24 hour scrub turnaround day on Aug. 26. The primary concerns on Aug. 26 are for thick clouds, cumulus clouds and lightning.

Minotaur IV ORS-5 mission patch

ORS-5 is like a telescope wrapped in a satellite that will aim up to seek threats from LEO to GEO. 

ORS-5, also known as SensorSat, is designed to scan for other satellites and debris to aid the U.S. military’s tracking of objects in geosynchronous orbit for a minimum of three years and possibly longer if its on boards sensor and satellite systems continue functioning in a useful and productive manner.

“The delivery and upcoming launch of ORS-5 marks a significant milestone in fulfilling our commitment to the space situational awareness mission and U.S. Strategic Command,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for Space. “It’s an important asset for the warfighter and will be employed for at least three years.”

The ORS-5 satellite has a payload mass of 140 kg. It will be launched into a low inclination equatorial orbit of 600 km x 600 km (373 mi x 373 mi) at zero degrees. 

“This will be the largest low-Earth orbit inclination plane change in history – 28.5 degrees latitude to equatorial orbit,” says Orbital ATK. 

“The Minotaur IV 4th stage will put ORS-5 into initial orbit & the payload insertion stage will make a hard left to get to equatorial orbit.”

The Cape Canaveral AFB launch site for this Minotaur IV was chosen, rather than NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia based on the final orbit required for ORS-5, Orbital ATK told Universe Today at a prelaunch media briefing.

The Minotaur IV is not powerful enough to deliver ORS-5 to the desired orbit from Wallops. 

ORS-5 was designed and built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory facility in Lexington, Massachusetts at a cost of $49 million. 

In July 2015 the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office awarded Orbital ATK a $23.6 million contract to launch the ORS-5 SensorSat on the Minotaur IV launch vehicle. 

ORS-5/SensorSat was processed for launch and encapsulation inside the 2.3 meter diameter payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations processing facility in Titusville, Florida.

The Minotaur IV is quite similar to Orbital ATK’s Minotaur V launch vehicle which successfully propelled NASA’s LADEE lunar orbiter to the Moon for NASA during a night launch from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in Sept. 2013. 

Launch of NASA’s LADEE lunar orbiter on Friday night Sept. 6, 2013 at 11:27 p.m. EDT on the maiden flight of the Minotaur V rocket from NASA Wallops, Virginia. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The Minotaur V also utilizes the first three stages of the decommissioned Peacekeeper ICBM missile.

Overall the ORS-5 launch will be the 26th blastoff in Orbital ATK’s Minotaur family of launch vehicles which enjoy a 100% success rate to date. 

Gantry doors open to expose Minotaur V rocket launching LADEE lunar orbiter to the Moon on Sept 6, 2013 from Launch Pad 0B at NASA Wallops Island. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

The U.S. Air Force has a stockpile of about 180 surplus Peacekeeper motors, but not all are launch capable, the USAF told Universe Today at a prelaunch media briefing.

The USAF furnishes the Peacekeeper motors to Orbital ATK after first refurbishing the booster stages at Vandenberg AFB, Ca.

Orbital ATK then upgrades the stages by adding their own “flight-proven avionics, structures, software and other components that are common among Orbital ATK’s space launch vehicles” and integrating the firms Orion 38 solid rocket motors for the two upper stages.

“A combined government and contractor team of mission partners executed final ground activities including a Launch Base Compatibility Test to verify satellite integrity after shipment, an intersegment test to verify communication compatibility from the satellite to the on-orbit operations center and the final battery reconditioning for launch, prior to its integration with the Minotaur IV launch vehicle,” says the USAF.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite Minotaur IV ORS-5, TDRS-M, CRS-12, and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. 

Ken Kremer

Minotaur IV ORS-5 Mission Trajectory. Credit: Orbital ATK

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Learn more about the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, upcoming Minotaur IV ORS-5 military launch on Aug. 25, recent ULA Atlas TDRS-M NASA comsat on Aug. 18, 2017 , SpaceX Dragon CRS-12 resupply launch to ISS on Aug. 14, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL: 

Aug 25-26: “2017 Total Solar Eclipse, Minotaur IV ORS-5, TDRS-M NASA comsat, SpaceX CRS-12 resupply launches to the ISS, Intelsat35e, BulgariaSat 1 and NRO Spysat, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew capsules from Boeing and SpaceX , Heroes and Legends at KSCVC, ULA Atlas/John Glenn Cygnus launch to ISS, SBIRS GEO 3 launch, GOES-R weather satellite launch, OSIRIS-Rex, Juno at Jupiter, InSight Mars lander, SpaceX and Orbital ATK cargo missions to the ISS, ULA Delta 4 Heavy spy satellite, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

Stacking the 4th stage of the Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket in preparation for the August 25, 2017 ORS-5 launch from Space Launch Complex 46, Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. Credit: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket description. Credit: Orbital ATK/USAF

minotaur4-g

Quelle: UT

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Update: 26.08.2017 / 7.40 MESZ

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Start von Minotaur 4 mit ORS-5 Satelliten - LIVE-Frams:

ors5-a

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ors5-aa

ors5-ab

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ors5-ac

ors5-ad

ors5-ae

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ors5-afa

ors5-afb

ors5-afc

ors5-afd

ors5-afe

ors5-aff

ors5-afg

ors5-afh

ors5-afi

ors5-afj

ors5-afk

ors5-afl

ors5-afm

Quelle: USAF

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Update:

Minotaur rocket roars from Cape Canaveral

Minotaur IV rocket launches from Cape

 

Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV, making its first launch from Florida, shot from long-dormant Launch Complex 46 at 2:04 a.m. Posted Aug. 26, 2017 Orbital ATK video.

A rocket powered by remnants of a Cold War nuclear missile bolted from Cape Canaveral early Saturday with an Air Force satellite that will track threats to military spacecraft orbiting high overhead.

Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV, making its first flight from Florida, shot from long-dormant Launch Complex 46 at 2:04 a.m., catapulted by 500,000 pounds of thrust generated by the first of three decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile motors.

Within a half-hour, the five-stage, solid-fueled rocket dropped off SensorSat, a coffee table-sized satellite, about 370 miles over the equator.  

From that vantage point, the $87.5 million mission will survey a region 22,000 miles higher up known as geostationary orbit or the “GEO belt,” home to critical national security satellites providing intelligence, communications, missile warning and weather data.

“It’s sort of analogous to a surveillance radar at an airport, which goes around and around and around and around, surveilling the domain,” said Grant Stokes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, which built the satellite.

 

 

The 250-pound telescope will record the brightness and position of spacecraft seen as dots far above it. More capable spacecraft, including two pairs patrolling the higher orbit, will be able to take closer looks at any objects of interest.

Those could include potentially crippling space junk, but also Russian or Chinese spacecraft making aggressive maneuvers.

“This is all part of the U.S. military’s renewed concern about being able to detect potential threats to its satellites in geostationary orbit,” said Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation. “It’s increasingly concerned about other satellites or objects trying to get close to those satellites, either to do intelligence, but also to perhaps try and deny, disrupt, degrade, destroy them.”

That’s because space assets are more ingrained in daily operations than ever before.

“There’s basically not a military operation the U.S. has today that doesn’t rely on space to some extent,” said Weeden.

 
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