A rocket, fueled by the remnants of a nuclear missile from the Cold War, launched from Cape Canaveral with an amazing payload.
A rocket blasted into the sky early Saturday morning at Cape Canaveral in Florida, but this was no orderinary rocket. Not only was it powered by the remnants of a nuclear missile from the Cold War, it launched an Air Force satellite that will be responsible for tracking threats to military spacecraft.
It’s called the Minotaur IV, produced by Orbital ATK, and it made its first flight from Launch Complex 46 thanks to thrust from Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile motors, which were decommissioned a while ago.
The $87.5 million mission will involve surveying the “GEO belt,” the geostationary orbit where critical national security satellites help the U.S. military gather intelligence, send communications, and collect weather data.
“Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, announced its Minotaur IV space launch vehicle successfully launched and placed into orbit the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) spacecraft on August 26, 2017,” the company said in a statement. “The Minotaur IV launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46), which is operated under license by Space Florida. This mission marks the 26th consecutive successful launch for the company’s Minotaur product line.
“The rocket’s first stage ignited at 2:04 a.m. (EDT). Approximately 28 minutes later, the Minotaur IV deployed the ORS-5 satellite into its targeted low inclination orbit 372 miles (599 kilometers) above the earth. From this orbit, ORS-5 will deliver timely, reliable and accurate space situational awareness information to the United States Strategic Command through the Joint Space Operations Center.”