August 14, 2020

Photos: Minotaur 4 rocket ready for launch from Virginia


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A 78-foot-tall (23.8-meter) Minotaur 4 rocket is poised for liftoff Wednesday from Virginia’s Eastern Shore carrying four top secret payloads into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The Northrop Grumman-built rocket, using three retired Peacekeeper missile stages and a commercial solid rocket motor upper stage, is standing on pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The Minotaur 4 rocket is slated to blast off on the NROL-129 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency in charge of the U.S. government’s spy satellite fleet. Details about the four payloads on the rocket have not been disclosed.

The launch will mark the seventh launch of a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, and the first Minotaur flight from Wallops since November 2013. It will be the 27th flight of a Minotaur rocket overall since 2000, including suborbital and orbital flights from Wallops, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Kodiak Island in Alaska, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

These photos show the Minotaur 4 rocket on pad 0B at Wallops Island, Virginia. See our Mission Status Center for live updates on the countdown and launch.

Credit: NRO/Northrop Grumman
Credit: U.S. Space Force
Four NRO payloads are enclosed inside the Minotaur 4 rocket’s payload fairing for launch Wednesday from Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: NRO/Northrop Grumman
The 78-foot-tall (23.8-meter) Minotaur rocket stands on pad 0B at Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit: NASA/Chris Perry
Northrop Grumman’s Minotaur 4 rocket stands on pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. Credit: NRO/Northrop Grumman
Credit: Northrop Grumman
Credit: NASA/Chris Perry

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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