updated 4/12/2005 3:18:24 PM ET 2005-04-12T19:18:24

A low-cost U.S. Air Force research satellite was boosted into orbit Monday by a rocket built from the engines of a decommissioned missile and Pegasus boosters.

The latest launch was the third success for the Minotaur rocket program. Two more launches are scheduled for July and December from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The rocket carrying the 319-pound satellite, built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics Operations for the Air Force Research Laboratory, lifted off at 6:35 a.m. PST without incident, said Lt. Lucas Ritter, a Vandenberg spokesman.

The $80 million satellite, XSS-11, will orbit for about a year and will rendezvous with several targets. The mission is similar to Friday's scheduled launch of NASA's DART spacecraft, the first robotic spacecraft designed to rendezvous in orbit with other satellites without any human intervention.

Minotaur, developed by Orbital Science Corp., was made by combining parts from Minuteman II missiles retired under a 1991 arms control treaty and from Orbital's Pegasus rocket. Minotaur's previous flights were in January and July 2000, delivering a total of five satellites into orbit.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments