Author Topic: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle  (Read 17555 times)

Offline Skyrocket

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Orbital has added a new Minotaur version to their stable. The Minotaur-6 is a Minotaur-4+ with an additional SR-118 motor.
(SR-118 / SR-118 / SR-119 / SR-120 / Star-48BV)

http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Publications/Minotaur6_Fact.pdf

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #1 on: 01/22/2013 09:26 PM »
How many of these motors does the Air Force / Orbital have available ?

Is there any reasonable limit to the number of cheap launchers they can make from old ICBMs ?

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #2 on: 01/22/2013 11:41 PM »
How many of these motors does the Air Force / Orbital have available ?

Is there any reasonable limit to the number of cheap launchers they can make from old ICBMs ?

There were 50 Peacekeepers deployed and I don't know how many spares of each motor.

Offline antonioe

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #3 on: 01/24/2013 02:16 AM »
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Online edkyle99

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #4 on: 01/24/2013 04:07 AM »
Orbital has added a new Minotaur version to their stable. The Minotaur-6 is a Minotaur-4+ with an additional SR-118 motor.
(SR-118 / SR-118 / SR-119 / SR-120 / Star-48BV)

http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Publications/Minotaur6_Fact.pdf

Outperforms Athena 2c.[1]  Practically a Delta 7420 "Med-Lite" class launcher, at least for SSO. 

Castor 120 motors have been stacked, but not SR-118 motors, so a bit of a challenge there. 

I wonder what is the payload driving this development.

As for how many motors might be available, 50 MX missiles were deployed, 51 were flight tested, and about seven eight SR118 motors have been used on Taurus and Minotaur launches.  One unreliable source that we all know and love (wiki) says that 114 missiles were delivered, without citation, suggesting that 56 55 motor sets remain.  The 114 missile claim is repeated at the following site. 
http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/Mx.html

 - Ed Kyle

[1]Heck, it outperforms CZ-2D.  And Vega, and Taurus, and - you're not going to believe this - Titan 23G!  And Rokot/Briz KM.  And Atlas Agena.  And so on.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 07:40 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #5 on: 01/24/2013 06:28 AM »

Outperforms Athena 2c.[1]  Practically a Delta 7420 "Med-Lite" class launcher, at least for SSO. 

...

[1]Heck, it outperforms CZ-2D.  And Vega, and Taurus, and - you're not going to believe this - Titan 23G!  And Rokot/Briz KM.  And Atlas Agena.  And so on.

But, as with the other Minotaur versions, it is not available commercially.

Offline Eerie

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #6 on: 01/24/2013 12:36 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #7 on: 01/24/2013 12:40 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
I will say that is a negative overall, but in terms of solids maybe, but I forget how many stages that the two Russian Start ILV version had. I have there handbooks.

Offline Eerie

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #8 on: 01/24/2013 12:45 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
I will say that is a negative overall, but in terms of solids maybe, but I forget how many stages that the two Russian Start ILV version had. I have there handbooks.

How many stages is the record?

Online Galactic Penguin SST

This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
I will say that is a negative overall, but in terms of solids maybe, but I forget how many stages that the two Russian Start ILV version had. I have there handbooks.

Start-1 has four, while Start (which only flew a failed mission in 1995) has five.

The N-1 has five stages if you include the two TLI and LOI stages (block G/D)....
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #10 on: 01/24/2013 12:51 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?

5 stages is the maximum used for orbital rockets, but there were earlier examples like the Scout-E1 or the russian Start.

For suborbital launches, the number maximum number of stages was 7 (a 6 stage Trailblazer-1 rocket with an additional shaped charge firing a pellet). In this special case it is debateable, if the shaped charge qualifies as a "stage".

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #11 on: 01/24/2013 12:52 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
I will say that is a negative overall, but in terms of solids maybe, but I forget how many stages that the two Russian Start ILV version had. I have there handbooks.

How many stages is the record?


Titan IIIE had 5 stages when carrying a STAR SRM for high energy mission.  Also, Titan 34D and Titan IV when carrying an IUS.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 12:55 PM by Jim »

Online edkyle99

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #12 on: 01/24/2013 01:51 PM »

Outperforms Athena 2c.[1]  Practically a Delta 7420 "Med-Lite" class launcher, at least for SSO. 

...

[1]Heck, it outperforms CZ-2D.  And Vega, and Taurus, and - you're not going to believe this - Titan 23G!  And Rokot/Briz KM.  And Atlas Agena.  And so on.

But, as with the other Minotaur versions, it is not available commercially.

I wish they were.  Otherwise, the assets will never be fully used.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 01:52 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #13 on: 01/24/2013 02:03 PM »
I assume they would have to contract with ATK to build new SR-118 like motors instead of re-using the old Peacekeeper segments in order to build a commerical version of the launcher.

You would have to examine the potential size of the commerical market for a launcher of this size, and if it might steal some of the market from the brand-new Antares launcher that you are trying to market to the same customer base.

In the meanwhile, the Air Force will get to use a pretty capable launcher for a fairly cheap price. I assume they can beat SpaceX on pricing with this launcher.

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #14 on: 01/24/2013 02:10 PM »
I assume they would have to contract with ATK to build new SR-118 like motors instead of re-using the old Peacekeeper segments in order to build a commerical version of the launcher.

Those motors already exist and are called Castor 120's.  Athena uses 1 or 2 of them and Taurus uses one. 

The point of Minotaur is to use up existing assets.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 02:12 PM by Jim »

Offline gwiz

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #15 on: 01/24/2013 03:11 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
5 stages is the maximum used for orbital rockets, but there were earlier examples like the Scout-E1 or the russian Start.
Or even earlier, a Juno 1 with an extra upper stage for the unsuccessful Beacon 1 launch in 1958.

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #16 on: 01/24/2013 04:11 PM »
This thing is a 5-stage rocket. Is this a record?
I will say that is a negative overall, but in terms of solids maybe, but I forget how many stages that the two Russian Start ILV version had. I have there handbooks.

How many stages is the record?


Titan IIIE had 5 stages when carrying a STAR SRM for high energy mission.  Also, Titan 34D and Titan IV when carrying an IUS.
Is that five stages counting the side boosters?  If so, you should also include India's PSLV and previous ASLV, and perhaps Pegasus/HAPS counting the airplane!
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 04:16 PM by IanO »
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #17 on: 01/24/2013 04:23 PM »
Well, if you really want to get silly, There are ways we can count the Saturn V/Apollo/LEM stack as six stages ;)
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Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #18 on: 01/24/2013 04:59 PM »

Is that five stages counting the side boosters?  If so, you should also include India's PSLV and previous ASLV, and perhaps Pegasus/HAPS counting the airplane!

No, the side boosters count as one stage

Online edkyle99

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #19 on: 01/24/2013 05:03 PM »
I conjured up a side-by-side comparison of Minotaur 4, 5, and 6, attached here.  This uses "samples" from an OSC Minotaur 5 brochure as a starting point.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #20 on: 01/24/2013 05:28 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #21 on: 01/24/2013 05:39 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

There are three ways. 
a.  There is always some fine tuning by the payload
b.  There is ballasting
c.  adaptive flight control, where the vehicle dissipates excess energy with a less efficient trajectory.

Online edkyle99

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #22 on: 01/24/2013 07:47 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

There are three ways. 
a.  There is always some fine tuning by the payload
b.  There is ballasting
c.  adaptive flight control, where the vehicle dissipates excess energy with a less efficient trajectory.

There is a possibility, too, that the integration of the upper solid motor into the Guidance and Control Assembly (GCA) provides a means of trimming velocity a bit.  The GCA, which is a doughnut shaped structure around the smaller solid motor, has a cold gas attitude control system to position the stage during coast periods and to provide roll control during burns.  I'm not sure if it is also used to trim insertion velocity, but it seems possible, though to a limited extent.  (The Users Guide only discusses "energy management", by which it means (c) above, achieved by varying the orientation and start time of the final stage burn after a coast period.)

I'm guesstimating that Minotaur 6 might be able to lift 3.2 tonnes or more to LEO from Cape Canaveral.  Minotaur 6+ might lift 3.4 or more tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

P.S. - It's good to see the old "PAM-D" (of a sort) still in action.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 08:30 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #23 on: 01/26/2013 05:49 AM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

There are three ways. 
a.  There is always some fine tuning by the payload
b.  There is ballasting
c.  adaptive flight control, where the vehicle dissipates excess energy with a less efficient trajectory.


One more way is possible. Some solid upper stages are designed so that, after manufacture, the propellant grain can be precision-machined to remove propellant to tailor the total impulse delivered to the payload. The Orbus 21 used by IUS and TOS was designed that way. It carried a nominal load of 21,000 lbs propellant +/-, but could be "offloaded" by up to 50% by machining the grain from inside out, like coring an apple from the center out, after the grain was cast. That way an off-the-shelf motor could be tailored to a specific payload without resorting to ballast.

Of course, even with a precisely tailored propellant load you do get some impulse variability that has to be trimmed out in the ways Jim and Ed have mentioned.

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #24 on: 01/26/2013 12:58 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

There are three ways. 
a.  There is always some fine tuning by the payload
b.  There is ballasting
c.  adaptive flight control, where the vehicle dissipates excess energy with a less efficient trajectory.


One more way is possible. Some solid upper stages are designed so that, after manufacture, the propellant grain can be precision-machined to remove propellant to tailor the total impulse delivered to the payload. The Orbus 21 used by IUS and TOS was designed that way. It carried a nominal load of 21,000 lbs propellant +/-, but could be "offloaded" by up to 50% by machining the grain from inside out, like coring an apple from the center out, after the grain was cast. That way an off-the-shelf motor could be tailored to a specific payload without resorting to ballast.

Of course, even with a precisely tailored propellant load you do get some impulse variability that has to be trimmed out in the ways Jim and Ed have mentioned.

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #25 on: 01/27/2013 03:42 AM »
My question was more related with how all-solid LVs deal with performance shortfall (or the opposite), and whether or not they have extra margin that they can "use up" somehow if not needed. But Jim seems to have answered that.

Offline simonbp

Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #26 on: 01/28/2013 06:27 AM »
Yeah, the real question isn't "OMG, it's an all solid rocket", but what Ed asked earlier: What's the US government requirement that triggered OSC to develop this. They wouldn't have bothered if DoD didn't ask them to, and so there must be a class of payloads in the pipeline for it...

Offline JBF

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #27 on: 01/28/2013 10:55 AM »
Yeah, the real question isn't "OMG, it's an all solid rocket", but what Ed asked earlier: What's the US government requirement that triggered OSC to develop this. They wouldn't have bothered if DoD didn't ask them to, and so there must be a class of payloads in the pipeline for it...

As Jim said earlier, it's a case of we have all these motors, can we do anything with them.
"In principle, rocket engines are simple, but thatís the last place rocket engines are ever simple." Jeff Bezos

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #28 on: 01/28/2013 11:11 AM »
Yeah, the real question isn't "OMG, it's an all solid rocket", but what Ed asked earlier: What's the US government requirement that triggered OSC to develop this. They wouldn't have bothered if DoD didn't ask them to, and so there must be a class of payloads in the pipeline for it...

As Jim said earlier, it's a case of we have all these motors, can we do anything with them.

But it would surely not be done without a reason, i.e. a potential payload

Offline simonbp

Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #29 on: 01/28/2013 02:09 PM »
And, as noted above, it has to be a government payload, which effectively means NASA, NRO, or USAF.

A hint may be that in the fact sheet, they list performance only to very inclined orbits (SSO, 90 deg, 72 deg). It may be that OSC had inquiries about Antares polar/SSO performance, but they can't reach those orbits from MARS and a VAFB Antares pad would be expensive. So, they offer Minotaur 6 as an alternative.

Given that NRO has already launched a polar test mission on a Minotaur 1 (NROL-66), it seems reasonable that they would want a higher performance follow-up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-225

Offline Proponent

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #30 on: 01/28/2013 10:06 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but when using solid upper/kick stages - I assume that they use some kind of thrust-termination to make sure that the payload is delivered in the proper orbit?

Or is that up to the payload itself to fine-tune?

There are three ways. 
a.  There is always some fine tuning by the payload
b.  There is ballasting
c.  adaptive flight control, where the vehicle dissipates excess energy with a less efficient trajectory.

I seem to recall reading that Minuteman third stages have blow-out panels so that thrust can be terminated early for precise trajectory control.  Am I wrong?

Offline Jim

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #31 on: 01/29/2013 12:08 AM »
Not anymore

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #32 on: 05/03/2013 02:11 AM »
I am still skeptical and actively questioning the validity of this:
I saw that someone posted on an unofficial OSC fan site server's forum today claiming that a yet-to-be-named satellites series which is planned for the SBSS replacement programme as well as SBSS-1 when it reaches its targeted/predicted EOM will launch aboard a few Orbital Science's Minotaur-VI conversional launchers from SLC-8 near the end of this current decade.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #33 on: 05/03/2013 01:14 PM »
Got a link to the OSC fan site?
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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #34 on: 05/03/2013 02:23 PM »
I am still skeptical and actively questioning the validity of this:
I saw that someone posted on an unofficial OSC fan site server's forum today claiming that a yet-to-be-named satellites series which is planned for the SBSS replacement programme as well as SBSS-1 when it reaches its targeted/predicted EOM will launch aboard a few Orbital Science's Minotaur-VI conversional launchers from SLC-8 near the end of this current decade.
Makes sense to me.  The first Minotaur 4 orbited the first SBSS satellite in 2010 from SLC 8.  That was near the max payload limit for that rocket.  It seems likely that mass has grown for the operational satellites, which may be the reason for developing Minotaur 6.

With Antares, Stratrolaunch, and Minotaur 4,5,6, Orbital is playing with more new rockets than SpaceX these days.

 - Ed Kyle

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Re: Minotaur-6 - a new Peacekeeper based launch vehicle
« Reply #35 on: 08/11/2013 03:33 PM »
Orbital has now got an updated Minotaur IV family User's Guide that includes the new Minotaur VI: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/Publications/Minotaur_IV_Guide.pdf
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

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