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Orbital Sciences Corporationís Antares Rocket is designed to launch payloads up to 5000kg in low Earth orbit. It was formerly called Taurus II. It will be used launch Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Orbital Sciences Antares Rocket Picture

Orbital Sciences Antares Rocket

Antares is a two/three stage vehicle medium-class launch system that provides low-Earth orbit (LEO) launch capability for payloads weighing over 5000 kg. The Antares will provide a major increase in the payload launch capability that Orbital can provide to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and other customers.

It is designed to provide responsive, low-cost and reliable access to space. The Antares was internally funded by Orbital Sciences. Antares rocket will be used for the following 10 missions between 2013 and 2015:

(i) A risk reduction mission
(ii) A demonstration of commercial re-supply services for the International Space Station (ISS) under a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement
(iii) Eight Commercial Resupply Missions (CRS) to deliver cargo to the ISS.

The rocket is powered by two NK-33 derived rocket engines. The program is financed with the participation of NASA. As of April 2013 the United States bought around 40 engines from Russia.

Antares Rocket Specs:

Diameter: 3.9 m (12.8 ft)
Height: 40.5 m (133 ft)
Payload to LEO: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb)
Stages: 2 to 3.

Key Partners:

1. Orbital Sciences Corporation: Prime integrator, systems engineering,
avionics, primary structure, testing and software. Overall Stage 1 development and integration.
2. KB Yuzhnoye/Yuzhmash: Stage 1 core design, production
and verification
3. Aerojet: Stage 1 engines
4. ATK: Stage 2 motor


In 2008, Ukraine's Pivdenne design bureau and Pivdenmash (both based in Dnipropetrovsk) signed a long-term contract until 2019 with U.S. Orbital Science Corporation to design and produce the first stage of the Taurus-II rocket (now named the Antares rocket) to deliver cargo to the ISS.

On October 1, 2012 Orbital Sciences Corporationís Antares rocket rolled out to the launch pad at NASAís Wallops Flight Facility  Over the next several months, Orbital hot-fire tested the Antares first stage.

Orbital rolls its rocket out to launch pad

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced in mid October 2012 that it had rescheduled the first mission to the International Space Station of its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the spring of 2013.

Antares Hotfire Picture

Orbital Sciences successfully tests AJ26 rocket engines at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia on 22 February 2013.

Orbital Sciences successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket 22 February, 2013 from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, USA. It fired dual AJ26 rocket engines for approximately 30 seconds while the rocket was bolted down on the pad. Known as a 'hot fire' test, it demonstrated the readiness of the rocket's first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights.


1:  Antares A-ONE (2 stage vehicle)
Launch date: 21 April 2013.
Payload: Cygnus Mass Simulator, Dove 1, PhoneSat x3.

This was the first launch of the new Antares medium-class space launch vehicle. The Antares test flight was successful. This was the first of three launches of the new rocket scheduled for 2013.

2. COTS Demo
Launch Date: 14 September , 2013
Payload: Cygnus 1

First Cygnus mission.

3. CRS Orb-1
Launch Date: 8 December, 2013
Payload: Cygnus 2

First Cygnus Cargo Resupply Mission (CRS). First Antares launch to use the Castor 30B upperstage.

4. CRS Orb-2
Launch Date: 2014
Payload: Cygnus 3

5. CRS Orb-3
Launch Date: 2014
Payload: Cygnus 4

6. CRS Orb-2
Launch Date: 2014
Payload: Cygnus 5

Did you know?

* Orbital Sciences Corporation is a USA company which specializes in the manufacturing and launch of satellites.

* Cygnus Spacecraft is an unmanned re-supply spacecraft being developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) developmental program to deliver supplies to the International Space Station following the retirement of the NASA's Space Shuttle in 2011.


Space Launch System (SLS): America's Next Manned Rocket for NASA Deep Space Exploration to the Moon, Asteroids, Mars - Rocket Plans, Ground Facilities, Tests, Saturn V Comparisons, Configurations by World Spaceflight News & NASA. [Kindle Edition] (April 2012)

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This 3 DVD set features incredible footage of the story of the Saturn 5. Amazing rare footage of overcoming technological challenges in materials & techniques to stunning digital transfers of original 35mm pad camera footage.

Project Constellation Pocket by Frank Sietzen
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Guide takes an in-depth look at Project Constellation, the bold initiative designed to bring Americaís space exploration program into the 21st century. 

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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014