WASHINGTON — A Northrop Grumman Minotaur 4 solid propellant rocket launched the NROL-129 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office on July 15 at 9:46 a.m. Eastern from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The launch originally scheduled for 9:00 a.m. was delayed by the presence of fishing boats in restricted waters offshore that had to be cleared from the area.
This was the Minotaur 4’s first flight from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Island Facility. It was the NRO’s 54th launch since 1996 and its first launch on a Minotaur 4, a four-stage vehicle made with three government-furnished solid rocket motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. The upper stage is a Northrop Grumman Orion solid rocket.
The rocket motors used to build the vehicle that flew on Wednesday were cast between 1988 and 1990, Kurt Eberly, Northrop Grumman vice president of the Minotaur, Antares and Pegasus programs, told SpaceNews.