Taurus is a four-stage launch vehicle, developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, which uses the same Orion solid motor combination as its smaller cousin, the Pegasus, stacked on top of a larger Castor 120 solid motor. First flown in 1994, the Taurus stands 27 m tall, weighs 69,000–101,000 kg at ignition, and is easily transported and launched. It was designed to extend Orbital Sciences's ability to launch small and Med-Lite satellites.
Four variants of the Taurus launch vehicle exist. The smallest, known as the ARPA Taurus, uses a Peace Keeper first stage instead of a Castor 120 motor. The standard Taurus uses a Castor 120 first stage and a slightly larger Orion 50S-G second stage. The Taurus XL uses the Pegasus XL rocket motors and is considered a development stage launch vehicle. The largest Taurus variant, the Taurus XLS, is a study phase vehicle that adds two Castor IVB solid rocket boosters to the Taurus XL to increase payload capacity by 40% over the standard Taurus. For all Taurus configurations, satellite delivery to a geostationary transfer orbit can be achieved with the addition of a Star 37FM perigee kick motor.
Five consecutive launch successes for Taurus, from 1994 through 2000, were followed by a failure on 21 September 2001, in which the OrbView-4 and QuikTOMS satellites were lost.
|launch of a Taurus 2110.