Orbital Sciences (OSC) launched its second four-stage Taurus booster from Vandenberg AFB, California, on 10 February. It carried two Orbcomm data communications satellites and the US Navy's Geosat Follow On craft into a circular 775km, 108º inclination polar orbit.

It was the first Taurus launched with a Thiokol Castor 120 first stage, replacing the Peacekeeper missile first stage flown on the previous Taurus, launched in 1994.

The 368kg Ball Aerospace Geosat uses a radar altimeter and water vapour radiometer to measure differences in sea surface height associated with ocean currents and eddies. The Orbcomms were the eleventh and twelfth launched by OSC.

Source: Flight International