Minotaur C

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Atlas Vehicle Descriptions

Minotuar C

General Description


Northrop Grumman Minotaur-C launches from Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg AFB, carrying 10 small satellites owned by Planet Labs, October 31, 2017.

National Origin

United States

Main Organization


Minotaur-C (Minotaur Commercial), formerly known as Taurus[1] or Taurus XL, is a four stage solid fueled launch vehicle built by Northrop Grumman and launched from SLC-576E at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. It is based on the air-launched Pegasus rocket from the same manufacturer, utilizing a "zeroth stage" in place of an airplane. The Minotaur-C is able to carry a maximum payload of around 1458 kg into a low Earth orbit (LEO). First launched in 1994, it has successfully completed seven out of a total of ten military and commercial missions.[3] Three of four launches between 2001 and 2011 ended in failure, including the 24 February 2009 launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission[4] and the 4 March 2011 launch of the Glory mission,[5] which resulted in losses totalling US$700 million for NASA (excluding the cost of the rockets themselves).[6][7] The Taurus launch vehicle was subsequently rebranded in 2014 as Minotaur- C,[8] which incorporates new avionics based on those used by the Minotaur family of rockets.[1][3] After a six years pause, the rocket successfully returned to flight in 2017 as Minotaur-C.

Flight Rate

0–1 per year

Estimated Launch Price

$40-50 million (OSC, 2014)


Launch Site Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
Location 28.5°N, 81.0°W
Available Inclinations 28.5–51 deg

Primary Missions

Small LEO and SSO payloads



Key Organizations

Marketing Organization

Launch Service Provider

Prime Contractor


200 km (108 nmi), 28.5 deg 14578 kg (3214 lbm)
200 km (108 nmi), 90 deg  
Space Station Orbit: 407 km (220 nm), 51.6 deg ?
Sun-Synchronous Orbit: 800 km (432 nm), 98.6 deg 1054 kg (2324 lbm)
GTO: 185×35,786 km (100×19,323 nm), 28.5 deg  
GEO No capability

Flight Record (through 30 June 2021)
Total Orbital Flights 10
Launch Vehicle Successes 7
Launch Vehicle Partial Failures 0
Launch Vehicle Failures 3


Orbital Flights Per Year



Minotaur-C Launches 2004-2021

Failure Descriptions:      
P 1998 Feb 10     T2 1998 007 Delivery orbit apogee was 91 km higher than planned. Although considered a partial failure according the definition used in this publication, both Orbital Sciences and the payload customer consider the launch a success.

ADD: Minotaur-C 2004-2021 failures and partial failures (spreadsheet) here (once available)
2001 Sep 21     T6 2001 F01 When the second stage ignited at T+83 seconds, a nozzle gimbal actuator drive shaft siezed
for approximately 5 seconds causing loss of control. The vehicle recovered and continued to fly
the mission profile, but failed to reach a stable orbit and reentered near Madagascar.