Government Shutdown Delays Rocket Launch : The Two-Way The blastoff of the Minotaur I, operated by Orbital Sciences Corp., has been pushed back after preparations were put on hold during the government hiatus. When it does blast off, it will launch 29 satellites into low Earth orbit, a new record for the most payloads ever deployed from a single rocket.
NPR logo Government Shutdown Delays Rocket Launch

Government Shutdown Delays Rocket Launch

A Minotaur I at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA hide caption

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NASA

A Minotaur I at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

NASA

The launch of a rocket carrying a record-breaking 29 satellites — originally set for early next month — will be delayed by a few weeks after the partial government shutdown halted preparations.

The Minotaur 1, operated by private space-launch firm Orbital Sciences Corp. had been slated for blast off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Nov. 4. Space.com reports:

"But just as preparations began to ramp up for the launch, managers had to order a work stoppage Oct. 1 because the government shutdown interrupted access to facilities on NASA property, including a satellite processing building, a rocket storage complex and the launch pad."

The launch of the Minotaur 1, which Space.com describes as "a fusion of decommissioned Minuteman missile stages and new commercial solid rocket motors," has been tentatively rescheduled for Nov. 19. Space.com says:

"The Minotaur 1 rocket will launch 29 satellites into low Earth orbit, setting a new record for the most payloads ever deployed from a single rocket.

The largest payload is a technology trailblazer named STPSat 3, an approximately 400-pound spacecraft hosting five experiments to test next-generation satellite components and measure the space environment.

Four dozen more satellites will launch stowed inside CubeSat deployment pods for release once the Minotaur's upper stage reaches orbit."