Minotaur C


There are three basic Taurus configuration types. The Standard Small Launch Vehicle (SSLV) Taurus uses the Peacekeeper ICBM first stage with standard length Orion upper-stage motors, and is used to launch USAF payloads. The Commercial Taurus uses the Castor 120 first stage motor with standard length Orion motors. The Taurus XL uses the Castor 120 with extended length Orion XL motors. For performance enhancement, the ATK Thiokol Star 37 motor can be used in place of, or in addition to, the standard Orion 38 upper-stage motor. Orbital uses the following four-digit nomenclature to identify Taurus configurations.



Because the Orion motors were already numbered stages 1, 2, and 3 in their application on Pegasus, Orbital designated the Castor 120 first stage as Stage 0 on Taurus, allowing the upper-stage motors to retain the same designation. Thus, “Stage 1” is actually the second stage, and so on.


According to Orbital, launch services on Taurus are typically priced between $25 and $47 million, depending on the configuration and contract terms and conditions. The original SSLV Taurus configuration was developed with funding from a $16.3 million fixed price contract from DARPA for the first launch and approximately $25 million from Orbital.


Taurus is currently in production to support a variety of U.S. government and commercial payloads. The SSLV Taurus is available only for U.S. government payloads because it uses a surplus missile motor. The commercial Taurus configurations are available for all potential customers. Taurus launch services are available directly from Orbital. In addition, options are available to U.S. government customers under the NASA Small Expendable Launch Vehicle Services (SELVS) contract. At the time this publication was going to press, the Taurus XL configuration achieved its intial launch on 20 May 2004. Orbital has not yet determined when or if the standard Commercial Taurus configuration would be phased out.