On August 2, 2023, at 3:31 a.m. Kyiv time, the Antares launch vehicle was successfully launched from the launch pad of the Space Flight Center on Wallops Island (Virginia, USA). The rocket launched an Orbital Sciences Corporation / Northrop Grumman Space Systems Cygnus automated supply ship into orbit with supplies for the International Space Station, writes State Space Sgency of Ukraine.
This is the last Antares launch vehicle, the first stage of which was manufactured with the participation of Ukrainian specialists of the Southern Machine-Building Plant (Dnipro) in cooperation with the Ukrainian enterprises “Kyivprilad” (Kyiv), “Hartron-Arcos” (Kharkiv), “Hartron-Yukom” (Zaporizhia). , “Cesara Telemetry” (Chernihiv) and “Rapid” (Chernihiv) by order of the Northrop Grumman corporation.
Development of the Antares launch vehicle began in 2008, and the first flight took place on April 21, 2013. Since then, Antares has made 18 launches, only one of which failed. In all cases, the payload was a Cygnus transport ship in Standard or Enhanced configurations.
The Antares first stage, developed by the Pivdenne Design Bureau, used modified Soviet/Russian NK-33 engines, which were designated as Aerojet AJ26 (Antares series 100), and after 2014, Russian RD-191, i.e. a modified Soviet RD-181 ( Antares series 200). Once a full-scale invasion began, access to Russian engines became impossible, so in August 2022, Northrop Grumman ordered a new configuration of the 300-series Antares from Firefly Aerospace.
The new launch vehicle, already created without the participation of Ukraine, will be similar in configuration to the future Firefly Beta and will have seven Miranda engines developed by Firefly Aerospace. The first launch of Antares 330 is scheduled for June 2025.
We remind you that in February 2022, literally a week before the start of a full-scale war Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov sold 58% of Firefly Aerospace at the request of the US government. The first, a partially successful launch of the Firefly Alpha launch vehicle took place in October 2022, and already in March 2023 NASA selects Firefly Aerospace to land a lander on the far side of the Moon in 2026.