Minotaur Rockets Could Launch From Florida

SPACE FLORIDA PRESS RELEASE

Early this month, the Space Launch Division of the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center/Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) announced the award of a $48 million “Spaceports 3” contract to provide Florida-based launch services for the federal government.

The Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) award reflects a potential value of up to $48 million for future Minotaur launches from Florida. The first part of this award, which will go into effect immediately (valued at $30,000), is a Task Order to develop a Logistics Strategy Plan for solid-propellant rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral, managed by Space Florida. This logistics plan would include specifics regarding infrastructure requirements for launch as well as facilities to be used to process future solid-fueled boosters and payloads.

“The logistics plan is a valuable first step to making the Cape a new location for launch of Minotaur and other solid-propellant rockets,” noted Mark Bontrager, Space Florida Vice President of Spaceport Operations. “We are extremely pleased to receive this award and look forward to working with the SDTW to complete the initial task, so that we may proceed with vehicle launch scheduling from SLC-46.” An additional Task Order Award is anticipated to incorporate actual launches from the SLC-46 pad.

In November, Space Florida signed a Letter of Intent with Masten Space Systems to host demonstration launches of a Masten suborbital vehicle from SLC-36 in 2011. This partnership served as a good example of the flexibility of the Eastern Range to quickly support multiple types of commercial, civil and DoD missions. This capability will also serve well for any new Minotaur launches from Florida as well.

“The Eastern Range streamlined processes for multiple types of users to reduce costs for the launch customer, making Florida even more attractive for new space-related business,” added Bontrager. “Adding Minotaur launches will give Florida even more capability to host a wide variety of payloads.”

Space Florida will partner with ATK and Astrotech on the Spaceports 3 contract to provide the launch complex and process future payloads related to Minotaur launches from Florida.

“Space Florida continues to work aggressively with all launch providers to increase operations in Florida in support of a wide variety of civil, defense and commercial missions,” added Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “Adding potential for Minotaur launches from SLC-46 is just part of an overarching strategy to enable multiple launch opportunities that will reinforce Florida’s position as the preferred launch location in the U.S.”

Florida has several distinct launch site advantages over other competitive U.S. spaceports. Flying from Cape Canaveral, FL for instance, enables 2% (LEO) – 14% (GEO) increase in payload capability over Wallops Island, VA. This can reflect up to 600 pounds of additional payload for a typical booster to the same orbit.

In 2010, Florida launched 15 commercial, civil and defense rocket missions. Eastern Range responsiveness for these launches included the facilitation of five launches in 27 days from Florida, utilizing four different types of launch vehicles.