Orbital ATK to launch first Minotaur-C in six and a half years


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Capitalism in space: Orbital ATK will try today to successfully launch its renamed Taurus rocket, six and a half years after its previous two launches had ended in failure.

The rocket is now called Minotaur-C and will attempt to launch ten Planet Lab smallsats. As Taurus, the rocket failed 3 times out of 9 launches, and from what I could tell watching the launch industry, was basically a dead product. I am now astonished that it is coming back to life. Apparently, Planet Lab got a good launch price, and can take the risk since its smallsats represent a relatively small investment and can be replaced much more easily than the two research satellites (Orbiting Carbon Laboratory and Glory) that NASA lost in the rocket’s previous two launches more than half a decade ago.

The article outlines nicely the history of this rocket, and how its failures significantly set back the growth of Orbital ATK. Hopefully, it will succeed now, and provide the U.S. another player in the increasingly competitive global launch market.

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