Minotaur Launch from Vandenberg

An Orbital Sciences Minotaur I rocket successfully lifted off Sunday from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload into space. The launch took place at 4:26 a.m. West Coast time from Vandy’s Space Launch Complex 8. “The 30th Space Wing and its mission partners have a long history of successful Minotaur launches and we are proud to continue that history again here today,” said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th SW commander and launch decision authority. The Los Angeles Times reported that the payload was a research and development spacecraft for NRO. More than 200 Air Force, industry, and NRO personnel supported the launch, the second of 11 planned this year at Vandenberg. It follows the first-ever West Coast firing of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket last month. Next up: an Orbital Taurus XL mission for NASA scheduled for Feb. 23. (Includes Vandenberg release)