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Minotaur Launches NFIRE: The Missile Defense Agency says that an Orbital Sciences Minotaur I boosted the agency’s research satellite, the Near Field Infrared Experiment, into orbit from Wallops Island, Va., at 2:49 a.m. Tuesday. The NFIRE has two payloads: The Track Sensor Payload and a Laser Communications Terminal payload. The Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., and Science Applications International Corp. developed TSP, which MDA will use to “validate and update the models and simulations that are fundamental to missile defense technologies,” states an MDA release. Researchers expect TSP to provide imagery and data on missile exhaust plumes from boosting rockets.