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The Mission




Rocket: Minotaur 1
Payload: TacSat 3
Date: May 19, 2009
Window: 7:35-11:30 p.m. EDT
Site: Wallops Island, Va.

Mission Status Center

Our preview story

Launch events timeline

Earlier Minotaur coverage




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BY STEPHEN CLARK AND JUSTIN RAY

Follow the launch of the Minotaur 1 rocket carrying the TacSat 3 spacecraft for the U.S. Air Force. Reload this page for updates.

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009

A Minotaur rocket made a twilight ascent into space from Virginia's Eastern Shore Tuesday evening, successfully carting an experimental satellite into orbit to begin a year of tactical military exercises on the final frontier.

Read our full story.

0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT Tues.)

The rest of the launch will occur without any live telemetry to confirm events in real time. But this is what's supposed to happen:

The Minotaur's fourth stage will soon do an avoidance maneuver to prevent the rocket from recontacting with TacSat 3. Deployment of NASA's PharmaSat research satellite is scheduled for T+22 minutes, 2 seconds. That'll be followed by three more tiny CubeSats inside another P-POD released a few minutes later.

0008 GMT (8:08 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 13 minutes, 10 seconds. The rocket has flown out of view of the Antigua station.

0007 GMT (8:07 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 12 minutes, 6 seconds. Spacecraft separation! The 880-pound TacSat 3 spacecraft has been released from the Minotaur's fourth stage to begin a one-year mission collecting data on new technologies that could be employed on future military satellites.

0006 GMT (8:06 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 11 minutes. Deployment of TacSat 3 is scheduled to occur in about one minute.

0005 GMT (8:05 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 10 minutes, 30 seconds. Telemetry coverage has been handed from Wallops to the Antigua tracking station.

0004 GMT (8:04 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 9 minutes, 59 seconds. The fourth stage has completed its burn and the vehicle should be in orbit.

0004 GMT (8:04 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 9 minutes, 30 seconds. Fourth stage continues to burn.

0003 GMT (8:03 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 8 minutes, 54 seconds. Third stage separation and fourth stage ignition are confirmed. The fourth stage Orion 38 solid rocket motor will burn for about 69 seconds to finish the job of placing the TacSat 3 satellite into orbit.

0002 GMT (8:02 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 7 minutes, 30 seconds. The third stage will be released at about T+plus 8 minutes, 38 seconds, and the fourth stage will ignite at about T+8 minutes, 49 seconds.

0001 GMT (8:01 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 6 minutes, 55 seconds. Minotaur is 257 miles in altitude, 863 miles east of the launch pad, traveling at 13,000 mph.

0001 GMT (8:01 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 6 minutes. The rocket remains in a good orientation during the coast.

0000 GMT (8:00 p.m. EDT Tues.)

T+plus 5 minutes. Systems aboard the Minotaur continue to look good as the rocket coasts to orbital altitude.

2359 GMT (7:59 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 4 minutes, 55 seconds. The flight path is normal.

2358 GMT (7:58 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes, 55 seconds. Minotaur is 143 miles in altitude, 297 miles east of the launch pad, traveling at 13,000 mph.

2358 GMT (7:58 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes, 25 seconds. The third stage has burned out and the Minotaur is beginning a coast phase lasting more than five minutes. The rocket will fly to an altitude of 288 miles, where the third stage will separate and the fourth stage will ignite to reach orbital velocity.

2358 GMT (7:58 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes. Normal vehicle performance reported by the launch team.

2357 GMT (7:57 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The nose cone protecting the payloads during the early portions of the launch has been jettisoned.

2357 GMT (7:57 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 2 minutes, 19 seconds. Second stage separation and third stage ignition confirmed.

The Minotaur is now being powered by components from the Pegasus rocket. The Orion 50XL third stage will fire for about 75 seconds.

2357 GMT (7:57 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 2 minutes, 3 seconds. Minotaur is 62 miles in altitude, 63 miles east of the launch pad, traveling at 5,500 mph.

2356 GMT (7:56 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 80 seconds. The second stage is flying on the proper path.

2356 GMT (7:56 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 61 seconds. The M55A1 first stage motor has completed its burn and separated from the SR19 second stage motor. Both stages are heritage motors from the Minuteman ballistic missile.

2355 GMT (7:55 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 43 seconds. Minotaur is 6.5 miles in altitude, 3.3 miles downrange.

2355 GMT (7:55 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 38 seconds. Passing through the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure on the rocket.

2355 GMT (7:55 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 15 seconds. The rocket has pitched on course for the climb to space over the Atlantic Ocean.

2355 GMT (7:55 p.m. EDT)

LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Minotaur 1 rocket with TacSat 3, a satellite to demonstrate new technologies for the U.S. military.

2354 GMT (7:54 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 15 seconds.

2354 GMT (7:54 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 30 seconds.

2354 GMT (7:54 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 50 seconds. Data recording charts are running.

2354 GMT (7:54 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 minute. Just 60 seconds to launch.

2353 GMT (7:53 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 100 seconds. The rocket's ordnance is being armed.

2353 GMT (7:53 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 minutes. Auto sequence start. The Minotaur's flight computer is now controlling the final countdown.

2352 GMT (7:52 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 minutes and counting.

2351 GMT (7:51 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 minutes, 25 seconds. Range is green.

2351 GMT (7:51 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 minutes. The C-band tracking beacon is functioning as expected on internal power.

2350 GMT (7:50 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 minutes, 15 seconds. The flight computer is armed.

2350 GMT (7:50 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 minutes. The rocket's avionics are switching to internal power at this time.

2349 GMT (7:49 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 minutes, 45 seconds. The ground ordnance is being enable.

2349 GMT (7:49 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 6 minutes. The launch team has received final authorization to fly the Minotaur rocket at 7:55 p.m. EDT.

2347 GMT (7:47 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 8 minutes. The FTS is being armed.

2346 GMT (7:46 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The flight termination system is going to internal power.

2344 GMT (7:44 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 11 minutes and counting.

2343 GMT (7:43 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 12 minutes and counting. The launch time of 7:55:00 p.m. EDT (2355:00 GMT) is being loaded into the Minotaur's flight computer.

2341 GMT (7:41 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 14 minutes and counting. Safety officials confirm that the launch hazard area is clear for launch.

2340 GMT (7:40 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 15 minutes and counting. All remains "go" for launch of TacSat 3, NASA's PharmaSat research satellite and three CubeSat payloads.

2339 GMT (7:39 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 16 minutes and counting. The launch team poll verifies all stations reported "go" for launch.

2337 GMT (7:37 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 18 minutes and counting. TacSat 3 is again confirmed in the proper configuration for launch.

2335 GMT (7:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The Minotaur is heading launch at 7:55 p.m. EDT.

2334 GMT (7:34 p.m. EDT)

Clocks reset to T-minus 20 minutes and holding. Standing by to resume.

2334 GMT (7:34 p.m. EDT)

NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff has been retargeted for 7:55 p.m. EDT.

2328 GMT (7:28 p.m. EDT)

Looks like launch won't be possible at 7:45 p.m. either. It's going to take a few more minutes to clear the boat and clocks remain holding at T-minus 18 minutes.

2326 GMT (7:26 p.m. EDT)

Countdown clocks have been reset to T-minus 18 minutes and holding. Another readiness poll will be conducted as the count resumes toward the new 7:45 p.m. EDT liftoff time.

2325 GMT (7:25 p.m. EDT)

NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff has been retargeted for 7:45 p.m. EDT.

2325 GMT (7:25 p.m. EDT)

The Range says the Coast Guard is in contact with the intruder boat in the launch zone. The estimate is the vessel should be clear in about five minutes.

2323 GMT (7:23 p.m. EDT)

There were no other problems reported in the launch team poll conducted a few minutes ago. The Range constraint because of the boat was the only issue reported, though that's obviously enough to stop the countdown.

The rocket, TacSat 3 and weather all remain in good shape.

2320 GMT (7:20 p.m. EDT)

A boat has been found in the restricted waters around the launch site. The countdown will hold until the intruder is escorted out of the way. Liftoff will be delayed at least a few minutes because of this situation.

2319 GMT (7:19 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 15 minutes, 35 seconds and holding. Range has gone into a "no go" status. Clocks have stopped.

2318 GMT (7:18 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 17 minutes and counting. The launch conductor is polling the launch team to check their final readiness for launch.

2317 GMT (7:17 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 18 minutes and counting. Surface and upper level wind conditions are acceptable.

2316 GMT (7:16 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 19 minutes and counting. The TacSat 3 spacecraft is confirmed in a good configuration for launch.

2315 GMT (7:15 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 20 minutes and counting. This is launch No. 3 for a Minotaur 1 rocket from Virginia. The other five missions of the vehicle have occurred from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

2310 GMT (7:10 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 25 minutes and counting. This evening's launch will be the eighth Minotaur 1 space launcher since it began service in 2000. The rocket combines equipment from the Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missile and Pegasus rocket programs.

Check out our timeline of post-launch events here.

2307 GMT (7:07 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 28 minutes and counting. A test of the rocket's flight safety system is now beginning.

2305 GMT (7:05 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 30 minutes. The countdown continues on schedule for the launch of a Minotaur 1 rocket with the U.S. Air Force's TacSat 3 satellite. The 69-foot-tall booster will fly from pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va.

Orbital Sciences is developing nearby pad 0A for launches of their Taurus 2 rocket on cargo delivery missions to the international space station. Those flights are scheduled to begin late next year or early 2011.

2302 GMT (7:02 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 33 minutes and counting. Valid data is being produced by the rocket's inertial guidance system.

2300 GMT (7:00 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 35 minutes and counting. A good signal from the rocket's tracking beacon is reported.

2258 GMT (6:58 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 37 minutes and counting. The Range is clear and "go" for launch at 7:35 p.m.

2252 GMT (6:52 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 43 minutes and counting. The rocket and TacSat 3 spacecraft remain "go" for launch.

2249 GMT (6:49 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 46 minutes and counting. Minotaur's guidance system has been aligned for flight.

2245 GMT (6:45 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 50 minutes. Skies remain clear at the launch site with 11 knot winds from the east off the ocean and a temperature of 57 degrees F.

2244 GMT (6:44 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 51 minutes. The launch team is aligning the rocket's inertial guidance system.

2242 GMT (6:42 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 53 minutes. Telemetry link checks between Minotaur and the Range have been completed. The launch team verified signal strengths for the rocket's S-band telemetry communications antenna.

2237 GMT (6:37 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 58 minutes. Rocket systems are being activated on external ground-fed power for final testing.

2235 GMT (6:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 60 minutes. The Range says it believes the alternate radar plan using ships will be set up and ready to support for an on-time launch at 7:35 p.m. EDT.

2222 GMT (6:22 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 73 minutes. The workable solution has been approved for the radar requirement. Exactly when the ships will be in position is not yet clear, however.

2209 GMT (6:09 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 86 minutes. The Range is working to get Coast Guard ships in place with radar capability that would replace the radar system that's down.

2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 100 minutes from the opening of this evening's four-hour launch opportunity. The Range problem is a surveillance radar that's a required piece of equipment needed to support the launch.

2145 GMT (5:45 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 50 minutes. The team will soon power up launch support equipment.

2140 GMT (5:40 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 55 minutes. The countdown is proceeding while the radar problem is addressed.

2125 GMT (5:25 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours, 10 minutes. The Range is working a problem with a mandatory radar system that is required for launch.

2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours, 14 minutes. The launch pad is being cleared of all personnel for the remainder of the countdown.

2105 GMT (5:05 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours, 30 minutes. The ground crew at the launch pad is arming the Minotaur rocket as the countdown continues toward a targeted 7:35 p.m. EDT liftoff.

The rocket, TacSat 3 spacecraft and weather remain "go" for launch.

2052 GMT (4:52 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours, 43 minutes. The final arming and rocket closeouts for flight are getting underway.

2035 GMT (4:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 hours and counting down to this evening's Minotaur rocket launch from the eastern shores of Virginia.

2015 GMT (4:15 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 hours, 20 minutes. "Things are looking very good for launch," the weather officer just reported during a briefing to mission managers.

2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 hours, 35 minutes. The steering sequence test was just run on the Minotaur rocket's first and second stages. Internal power checks are next.

1950 GMT (3:50 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 hours, 45 minutes. Link checks with the Range have been performed and navigation system testing with the Minotaur rocket is underway.

1923 GMT (3:23 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 hours, 12 minutes. The shelter rollback is complete, the pad crew reports. It takes just a few minutes to move the small structure a short distance from the rocket.

1920 GMT (3:20 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 hours, 15 minutes. Retraction of the mobile service shelter from around the Minotaur 1 rocket is underway.

1905 GMT (3:05 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 hours, 30 minutes. The Range setup checklist activities have been completed in the past short while. The pre-launch rocket vehicle checklist is coming up next. The launch team says Minotaur and TacSat 3 remain "go" for launch.

The weather outlook for launch, contrary to the earlier attempts this month, appears perfect. High pressure is dominating the weather picture at the launch site, and the forecast for liftoff time calls for clear skies, easterly winds of 13 knots and a temperature of 51 degrees F.

1835 GMT (2:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 hours and counting. The launch team is reporting for duty as clocks tick toward a liftoff at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT) this evening from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Weather conditions are ideal and there are no technical issues being worked. A potential airspace conflict talked about yesterday was resolved.

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

Military officials will try again Tuesday to launch a Minotaur rocket with a low-cost, high-tech demonstration satellite after a series of attempts earlier this month were thwarted by bad weather and technical snags.

The 69-foot-tall solid-fueled rocket has nearly four hours to blast off from Wallops Island, Va., on Tuesday. The Minotaur is carrying TacSat 3, a U.S. Air Force satellite that will conduct a year of experiments designed to help better link troops with space assets.

The launch window opens at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT) and closes at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT Wednesday). Officials extended the window from its original three-hour length to give the Minotaur 1 rocket a better shot at launching.

One issue could stand in the way of those plans.

Officials are still awaiting confirmation from the Federal Aviation Administration that the airspace around Wallops will be clear during tomorrow night's window.

A NASA spokerson said the launch team expects to receive word from the FAA late tonight or early Tuesday.

Managers will target a new launch attempt Wednesday if they do not receive FAA approval.

Weather this week is much improved over conditions that afflicted Virgina's Eastern Shore two weeks ago, when the Minotaur's countdown was scrubbed three times, twice due to weather.

Forecasters are calling for a 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions during Tuesday's launch window. Favorable conditions are expected through much of the week, a NASA spokesperson said.

Tuesday will mark the fourth time the Minotaur has tried to launch this month. Attempts May 5 and May 7 were put off because of stormy weather.

The third shot May 8 was scrubbed due to an anomalous voltage reading in the rocket's Flight Termination System, which would be used to destory the vehicle if it veered off course or threatened populated areas.

Engineers have since studied the problem and cleared the rocket for liftoff Tuesday.

Officials could not stage another launch attempt until this week because range assets were unavailable to support the flight.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2009

Launch of the Minotaur rocket has been rescheduled for the evening of May 19 during a window of 7:35 to 11:30 p.m. EDT.

A backup opportunity will be available the following night during the same four-hour window.

SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2009
0330 GMT (11:30 p.m. EDT Fri.)


Tonight's launch of a technology demonstration satellite was scrubbed after a controller noticed a voltage parameter was out of limits and ordered a hold about two minutes before liftoff.

The low voltage was detected by the flight safety officer shortly after powering up a component affiliated with the flight termination system. The countdown clock was ticking toward a liftoff at 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT), near the end of a three-hour launch window that was marred by lengthy troubleshooting of support equipment at the launch pad.

Managers decided to scrub the launch because there was not enough time to resolve the voltage issue in the time remaining in the launch window.

Officials have confirmed they will not try again Saturday, and the launch team was told the next attempt may not be until May 19.

The Minotaur 1 rocket has been trying to get off the ground all week, but persistent bad weather along Virgina's Eastern Shore thwarted attempts Tuesday and Thursday. The weather was acceptable for launch tonight.

The launch was to deliver the U.S. Air Force's TacSat 3 satellite into orbit to begin one year of technology trials.

0312 GMT (11:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch conductor has formed a team to investigate the problem that caused tonight's scrub.

The flight safety officer noticed electrical voltages below a limit of 4 volts and ordered the countdown to stop.

0308 GMT (11:08 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Here is the discussion during the seconds before the hold was called:

"And Step 86, FTS, turn NCU electronic power on," the launch conductor instructed the flight termination system team member as the countdown clocks passed the T-minus 2 minute, 35 second mark.

"Electronic power on," the controller replied.

Then just 15 seconds later, the flight safety officer called a hold in the countdown.

"This is FSO, I've got a hold, hold, hold."

The launch team then began normal procedures to safe the rocket when a countdown is stopped in the final minutes.

0303 GMT (11:03 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch team has been instructed that they will not try another attempt at launch tomorrow. They were also told the next attempt may not be until May 19.

0300 GMT (11:00 p.m. EDT Fri.)

It appears tonight's attempt was scrubbed due to trouble with the rocket's flight termination system. The FTS would be used to destroy the rocket if it developed a problem that caused it to fly off course during launch.

It is unclear what the specific problem was or what can be done to fix it.

0250 GMT (10:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)

SCRUB. Officials have scrubbed tonight's launch attempt after a late hold in the countdown just two minutes before launch.

A launch controller reported a parameter was out of limits, prompting the hold.

0248 GMT (10:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Management officials are discussing their options for tonight's launch attempt. The launch window closes at 11 p.m. EDT and storms are forecast to move into the area in the next two hours.

0246 GMT (10:46 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch team is safing the Minotaur 1 rocket and backing out of countdown procedures after this unplanned hold.

0243 GMT (10:43 p.m. EDT Fri.)

HOLD. T-minus 2 minutes, 13 seconds and holding. The launch team has aborted the final countdown.

0242 GMT (10:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Range is green.

0241 GMT (10:41 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 4 minutes. The flight computer is armed. The C-band tracking beacon is functioning as expected on internal power.

0240 GMT (10:40 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 5 minutes. The rocket's avionics are switching to internal power at this time.

0238 GMT (10:38 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The launch team has received final authorization to launch.

0236 GMT (10:36 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. The FTS is now armed for launch.

0235 GMT (10:35 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The flight termination system is now on internal power.

0234 GMT (10:34 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 11 minutes and counting. The launch time of 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT) has been loaded into the Minotaur's flight computer.

0233 GMT (10:33 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 12 minutes and counting. TacSat 3 is now on internal power.

0230 GMT (10:30 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 15 minutes and counting. All remains "go" for launch of TacSat 3, NASA's PharmaSat research satellite and three CubeSat payloads.

0229 GMT (10:29 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Safety officials confirm that the launch hazard area is clear for launch.

0228 GMT (10:28 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 17 minutes and counting. The launch conductor just polled the launch team to check their final readiness for launch. All stations reported "go" for launch.

0227 GMT (10:27 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 18 minutes and counting. Lower and upper level winds are "go" for launch. Also, the spacecraft is being configured for launch.

0225 GMT (10:25 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The countdown has resumed after a brief halt to verify upper level wind speeds were acceptable for launch.

0223 GMT (10:23 p.m. EDT Fri.)

NEW LAUNCH TIME. The launch team has set a new launch time of 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT).

0220 GMT (10:20 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 20 minutes and holding. This hold was inserted to allow extra time to study balloon data on upper level winds around 40,000 feet.

Forty minutes remain in the advertised launch window tonight, so the countdown will have to pick up in 20 minutes to meet that time.

0217 GMT (10:17 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Tonight's launch will be the third Minotaur 1 launch from pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va.

Orbital Sciences is developing nearby pad 0A for launches of their Taurus 2 rocket on cargo delivery missions to the international space station. Those flights are scheduled to begin late next year or early 2011.

0211 GMT (10:11 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 29 minutes and counting. The countdown will hold at T-minus 20 minutes to give the launch team time to evaluate data from a weather balloon. Engineers will check to see if upper level winds about 40,000 feet are acceptable for launch.

The launch conductor says this hold will be brief.

0210 GMT (10:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Now a half-hour from launch of a Minotaur 1 rocket with TacSat 3, a demonstration satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

Tonight's launch will be the 8th Minotaur 1 space launcher since it began service in 2000. The rocket combines equipment from the Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missile and Pegasus rocket programs.

0208 GMT (10:08 p.m. EDT Fri.)

A safety test of the rocket's flight termination system is now beginning. The FTS would be used to destroy the rocket if it flew off course.

0206 GMT (10:06 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Valid data is being produced by the rocket's inertial guidance system.

0204 GMT (10:04 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 36 minutes and counting. The Minotaur's electrical voltage and current levels are deemed acceptable. Range safety officials can also detect a good signal from the rocket's tracking beacon.

0157 GMT (9:57 p.m. EDT Fri.)

A weather update indicates only a 20 percent chance of violating constraints due to layered clouds.

0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 45 minutes and counting. Minotaur's guidance system has been aligned for flight.

0151 GMT (9:51 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch team has verified signal strengths for the Minotaur's S-band telemetry communications antenna.

0147 GMT (9:47 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Controllers are powering up avionics for the Minotaur's flight computer and transmitters for performance tests.

0143 GMT (9:43 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch team will soon begin aligning the rocket's inertial guidance system.

0140 GMT (9:40 p.m. EDT Fri.)

One hour to launch. The launch team has successfully powered up the launch support equipment that caused trouble earlier in the countdown.

0137 GMT (9:37 p.m. EDT Fri.)

NEW LAUNCH TIME. The new launch time will be 10:40 p.m. EDT (0240 GMT).

0128 GMT (9:28 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The red team has departed the launch pad and the launch support equipment will be powered up next.

0120 GMT (9:20 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The launch conductor reports the launch support equipment power issue appears to be solved. The team is preparing to arm the rocket and clear the launch pad.

Weather continues to look favorable for the remainder of tonight's launch window. High winds and lightning should stay west of Wallops until at least 12:30 a.m. EDT.

0048 GMT (8:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)

T-minus 50 minutes and holding. The countdown clock has been reset to T-minus 50 minutes and holding in advance of restarting the countdown, if the launch support equipment problem can be resolved.

Earlier reports were that the issue had been corrected, but the red team continues to work on the problem.

2338 GMT (8:38 p.m. EDT Fri.)

It will take another 15 minutes of troubleshooting for the red team to determine if swapping the power supply on the launch support equipment will fix this problem. If approved, the power swap will take about 30 minutes to complete.

0030 GMT (8:30 p.m. EDT Fri.)

Local weather should be acceptable through the end of the window, but an approaching storm system will bring gusty winds to Wallops overnight, the weather officer just reported.

0015 GMT (8:15 p.m. EDT Fri.)

The sun has set along Virginia's Eastern Shore and floodlights have been turned on to illuminate pad 0B as technicians continue to work on the launch support equipment issue that has paused tonight's countdown.

We continue to await final confirmation that the problem has been resolved.

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009
2357 GMT (7:57 p.m. EDT)


Early indications are that the launch support equipment problem has been corrected.

2345 GMT (7:45 p.m. EDT)

Technicians continue working to resolve the problem with launch support equipment. The red team is troubleshooting fiber line connections at the pad.

"I anticipate we'll be looking toward the end of the window at this time," the launch conductor said.

Meanwhile, the launch weather officer said an incoming storm system from the west could cause thick clouds that could affect the final 45 minutes of tonight's launch window. The window extends until 11 p.m. EDT.

2325 GMT (7:25 p.m. EDT)

The red team has arrived at the launch pad to begin working the support equipment issue.

2314 GMT (7:14 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 45 minutes and holding. A small team is being dispatched to the pad to troubleshoot a "fiber issue" in launch support equipment. Controllers are safing pad systems and powering down other equipment before the team can enter the pad area.

2250 GMT (6:50 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 45 minutes and holding. Launch will not occur at 7:35 p.m. EDT.

The hold will give the Orbital Sciences team more time to troubleshoot problems powering up launch support equipment.

2241 GMT (6:41 p.m. EDT)

Officials are assembling an anomaly team to investigate a problem powering up launch support equiment. The launch conductor says the countdown will continue to the T-minus 20 minute point, where they may hold if the problem is unresolved.

For now, there is no impact on the launch time of 7:35 p.m. EDT.

2235 GMT (6:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour and counting. Now 60 minutes away from launch.

The launch team will soon power up launch support equipment. Officials are also working to clear a boat from waters downrange from the launch pad.

Check out our timeline of post-launch events here.

2215 GMT (6:15 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 20 minutes and counting. Workers were just ordered to clear the area for launch, which is now 80 minutes away.

2205 GMT (6:05 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 30 minutes and counting. The launch team continues to work no major technical issues and weather is improving for tonight's launch.

2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 40 minutes and counting. The mobile shelter has been rolled away from the rocket.

2150 GMT (5:50 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 hour, 45 minutes and counting. Workers have been given the "go" to retract the shelter from around the Minotaur 1 rocket. The gantry protects the launcher from bad weather and gives workers access to various parts of the rocket during stacking and testing.

The launch weather officer also just gave another update on the forecast for tonight's launch window. The primary concern remains with layered clouds, but the probability of violation has been lowered to about 30 percent.

"Things are getting better and better as the day goes on," the weather officer said.

2135 GMT (5:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours and counting. Now two hours away from the scheduled launch of the Minotaur 1 rocket with the U.S. Air Force's TacSat 3 satellite.

The launch team will soon begin preparations to roll the pad gantry away from the 69-foot-tall booster at pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va.

2055 GMT (4:55 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 hours, 40 minutes and counting. The launch weather officer just updated the forecast for this evening's launch window to just a 35 percent chance of violation. The primary concerns will be with layered clouds, ground winds and nearby rain showers.

The launch team also just gave approval to begin final vehicle and site preparations.

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2035 GMT (4:35 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 hours and counting. The launch team members recently completed their pre-launch vehicle checklist, which included first and second stage nozzle steering tests, internal power checks and alignment of the rocket's guidance computer.

Coming up in about 15 minutes, technicians plan to start final arming and rocket closeouts for flight.

The Minotaur 1 rocket, TacSat 3 spacecraft and Range are "go" for launch. The weather is the only concern going into the evening.

1955 GMT (3:55 p.m. EDT)

Tonight's liftoff of a Minotaur 1 rocket from Virginia has been rescheduled for an earlier launch time due to incoming bad weather. The liftoff carrying a technology demonstration satellite for the U.S. Air Force is now targeted for 7:35 p.m. EDT. The available launch window extends through 11 p.m. EDT.

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