Posted by Courtney E. Howard
VANDENBERG AFB, Calif., 22 Aug. 2011. The Minotaur IV Lite launch vehicle from launch vehicle contractor Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va., carried the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2) into space on 11 Aug. Orbital engineers delivered new and upgraded structures, electronics, and software; whereas, engineers from TASC Inc. in Chantilly, Va., resolved risks associated with the Minotaur IV, which involved making a design change to the launch vehicle’s post-separation maneuvers.
DARPA’s HTV-2, able to achieve Mach 20 speeds, is considered by many to be the fastest vehicle ever flown from the ground. This mission employed a Minotaur IV Lite launch vehicle sporting the first three rocket motor stages from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles.
TASC staff provided independent mission assurance, launch site, and engineering support for the launch of the Minotaur IV Lite launch vehicle. "These launches support some of our most advanced technological and scientific tests, paving the way for future hypersonic investments," says Pat Talty, senior vice president of Mission Engineering at TASC.