US Department of Defense Launches Spy Mission on Minotaur Rocket

FEATURED IMAGE: NROL-129 ascends from MARS on Wallops Island, VA. (Image credit: Next Horizons Spaceflight/Kyle Montgomery)

WALLOPS ISLAND, VIRGINIA – The United States Space Force and Department of Defense launches a set of spy satellites, NROL-129, this morning aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), in Wallops Island, Virginia. The Minotaur rocket, built and operated by Northrop Grumman, officially lifted off at 9:46 EDT. After two minutes the launch coverage was cut at the request of DoD. All was looking well until that point. Because of the nature of the launch, nothing is publicly known about the payloads or their health at this time.

Notice how fast the pure solid booster gets off the pad. (Video grab: USSF)

The Minotaur IV rocket is a LEO capable, four-stage, solid booster developed from the Peacekeeper series of ICBMs. The Minotaur program was designed to redeploy the unused Minuteman and Peacekeeper boosters developed during the Cold War. The Minotaur family of rockets range from suborbital to GEO and TLI orbital trajectories. This is the first Space Force launch from MARS and the first Minotaur launch from MARS since 2013.

Please enjoy a gallery of today’s Kyle Montgomery (@Kyle_M_Photo) launch shots! Stay tuned to Next Horizons Spaceflight for all of your launch news!