Northrop Grumman placed a National Reconnaissance (NRO) satellite into orbit from a MINOTAUR IV launcher on 15 July.

This mission marks the 27th consecutive successful launch for the company’s MINOTAUR product line which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year,” commented Kurt Eberly, Northrop Grumman Director, Launch Vehicles. “MINOTAUR’s record of success, along with its ability to responsively launch from multiple spaceports, continues to be a valuable asset for our customers.”

The NROL-129 launch (L-129) was the seventh flight for the MINOTAUR IV, which is capable of launching payloads of up to 1,800kg to low earth orbit. This mission’s configuration included three decommissioned PEACEKEPPER stages and a Northrop Grumman-manufactured ORION 38 solid fuel upper stage.

The MINOTAUR family of launch vehicles is based on government-furnished PEACEKEEPER and MINUTEMAN rocket motors, which Northrop Grumman integrates with modern avionics and other subsystems to produce a cost-effective, responsive launcher based on flight-proven hardware.

The vehicle used to launch the L-129 mission was procured under the OSP-3 contract, administered by the US Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Small Launch and Targets Division at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM. MINOTAUR vehicles are currently available to customers under the OSP-4 contract.

The MINOTAUR IV rocket was successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on 15 July. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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