Space: May 13, 2005


The U.S. Air Force is recycling retired ICBMs as satellite launchers and targets for testing anti-missile systems. The Minotaur Program has used eight converted Minuteman missiles to launch small (under 300 pounds) satellites so far. Converted Peacekeepers will be used for launching anti-missile system targets. The program actually uses the rocket motors from the Minuteman and Peacekeeper systems, and adds non-military guidance system components. A Peacekeeper based Minotaur will be able to put nearly two tons into low orbit. The Minotaur project will conduct three launches a year for the next few years. The air force is using Minotaur to develop satellite launch systems that can get birds in orbit quickly. The solid fuel rocket motors of ICBMs makes this possible.


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