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Northrop Grumman launched a MINOTAUR I rocket from NASA’s Wallop Island Flight Facility on 15 June, successfully launching a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload into orbit. The event marks the 28th MINOTAUR mission.

MINOTAUR I is a four-staged solid fuel space launch vehicle, featuring two decommissioned MINUTEMAN rocket motors, Northrop Grumman-manufactured ORION 50XL and ORION 38 solid rocket motors, and the company’s advanced avionics. The vehicle is capable of launching payloads of up to 580kg into low Earth orbit.

This was our second launch of a MINOTAUR rocket for the NRO from Wallops in the past 12 months,” commented Rich Straka, VP, Launch Vehicles. “Northrop Grumman is able to repurpose retired PEACEKEEPER and MINUTEMAN propulsion, integrating them with company-built solid rocket motors along with new subsystems for our MINOTAUR family of launch vehicles, allowing us to provide reliable, cost-effective and responsive access to space for our customers.”

The vehicle used to launch NROL-111 was procured under the OSP-3 contract, administer by the US Space Force (USSF). MINOTAUR vehicles are now available for a wide range of missions under the OSP-4 contract.

The successful launch of NROL-111 took place at NASA’s Wallop Island Flight Facility. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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