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The Mission

Rocket: Minotaur 1
Payload: TacSat 2 and GeneSat 1
Date: Dec. 11, 2006
Window: 7-10 a.m. EST (1200-1500 GMT)
Site: Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

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Launch events timeline

Ground track map

Earlier Minotaur coverage

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Minotaur launch timeline
Posted: December 8, 2006

T-00:00 Liftoff
The first stage's decommissioned Minuteman 2 M55A1 solid rocket motor ignites to begin the Minotaur rocket's mission. Pitch and roll commands two seconds later will put the rocket on the proper trajectory.
T+00:36.6 Max Q
Aerodynamic pressure on the vehicle reaches its peak as the Minotaur accelerates through the lower atmosphere.
T+01:01.3 Stage 1 Sep./Stage 2 Ignition
At an altitude of more than 21 miles, the rocket's first stage exhausts its supply of solid fuel and is jettisoned. The second stage's SR19 motor ignites to continue the flight toward space.
T+01:17.9 Stage 2 Skirt Jettison
The second stage's aft skirt is jettisoned.
T+02:13.4 Stage 2 Separation
After a 72-second burn, the Minotaur rocket's second stage separates at an altitude of more than 80 miles.
T+02:15.5 Stage 3 Ignition
Components from the Pegasus rocket program take over as the Alliant Techsystems, Inc. Orion 50XL motor begins its 73-second firing.
T+02:23.6 Fairing Jettison
The 61-inch payload fairing that protected the satellites during the ride through the lower atmosphere is jettisoned as the rocket ascends into space at an altitude 88 miles.
T+03:28.9 Stage 3 Burnout
The Orion 50XL motor completes its burn and the Minotaur enters a coast period lasting more than four minutes, during which the vehicle's altitude will soar from 137 miles to more than 250 miles.
T+07:41.0 Stage 3 Separation
The Minotaur's third stage is released to re-enter Earth's atmosphere.
T+07:52.0 Stage 4 Ignition
The Orion 38 solid rocket motor is ignited to complete the job of placing the payloads into orbit.
T+09:00.2 Stage 4 Burnout
The fourth stage uses up its propellant and burns out as it enters the targeted orbit.
T+11:00.2 TacSat 2 Separation
The Air Force's TacSat 2 satellite is deployed from the Minotaur rocket's fourth stage.
T+20:58.2 GeneSat 1 Separation
NASA's tiny GeneSat 1 craft is released from a P-POD deployment system built by California Polytechnic State University.

Data source: U.S. Air Force Space Development and Test Wing.