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The Mission

Rocket: Minotaur 1
Payload: TacSat 3
Date: May 5, 2009
Window: 8-11 p.m. EDT
Site: Wallops Island, Va.

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Minotaur launch timeline
Posted: May 4, 2009

T-00:00 Liftoff
The first stage's decommissioned Minuteman 2 M55A1 solid rocket motor ignites to begin the Minotaur 1 rocket's mission. Pitch and roll commands two seconds later will put the rocket on the proper trajectory.
T+00:37.2 Max Q
Aerodynamic pressure on the vehicle reaches its peak as the Minotaur 1 accelerates through the lower atmosphere.
T+01:01.3 Stage 1 Sep./Stage 2 Ignition
At an altitude of more than 20 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 at an altitude of 32 miles.
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 75 miles as the vehicle is traveling more than 6,100 mph.
T+02:15.6 Stage 3 Ignition
Components from the Pegasus rocket program take over as the Alliant Techsystems, Inc. Orion 50XL motor begins its 75-second firing.
T+02:23.7 Fairing Jettison
The 61-inch titanium payload fairing that protected the satellites during the ride through the lower atmosphere is jettisoned as the rocket ascends into space at an altitude of 83 miles.
T+03:30.3 Stage 3 Burnout
The Orion 50XL motor completes its burn and the Minotaur 1 enters a coast period lasting more than five minutes, during which the vehicle's altitude will soar from 135 miles to about 288 miles, the missionŐs orbital injection altitude.
T+08:38.8 Stage 3 Separation
The Minotaur's third stage is released to re-enter Earth's atmosphere.
T+08:49.8 Stage 4 Ignition
The Orion 38 solid rocket motor is ignited to complete the job of placing the payloads into orbit.
T+09:58.4 Stage 4 Burnout
The fourth stage uses up its propellant and burns out as it enters the targeted orbit at an altitude of about 290 miles and an orbital inclination of 40.5 degrees.
T+11:58.3 TacSat 3 Separation
The Air Force's TacSat 3 satellite is deployed from the Minotaur 1 rocket's fourth stage.
T+22:02.3 PharmaSat Separation
NASA's tiny PharmaSat spacecraft is released from a P-POD deployment system built by California Polytechnic State University.

Data source: Orbital Sciences Corp.