Antares is a two-stage launch vehicle designed to provide responsive and reliable access to space for medium-class payloads. Initially developed to demonstrate commercial re-supply of the International Space Station under a NASA contract, the Antares launch system utilizes many engineering standards, production and test processes common to Orbital's family of successful small-class launch vehicles. These proven launch technologies, along with hardware from many of the world's leading aerospace suppliers, combine to provide cost-effective access to a variety of orbits for civil, commercial and military payloads. The first launch of Antares took place from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on April 21, 2013.
The Antares design is being upgraded with newly-built RD-181 first stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability. Orbital is modifying the rocket’s first stage systems in anticipation of hot fire testing in late 2015. The company is currently targeting a return to flight in early 2016 with launches projected in the first, second and fourth quarters to fulfill the company’s agreement with NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
System Features Include:
- Incorporates both solid and liquid stages and flight-proven technologies
- Provides substantial payload performance into a variety of low inclination low-Earth and sun synchronous orbits and interplanetary trajectories
- 3.9 meter fairing accommodates large payloads
- Streamlined vehicle/payload integration and testing reduces time from encapsulation to lift-off
- Capable of launching single and multiple payloads
- Initial launch capability from Wallops Flight Facility (WFF)
- Compatible with Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Wallops Flight Facility, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC)