Its first stage is powered by a Ukrainian engine and powered by two Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket engines. They are set to launch the penultimate flight of the Antares’ current configuration — with Russian engines and a third stage — before switching over to an all-new rocket that will use U.S.-made engines and solid boosters early next year. The rocket rollout came less than two weeks after the company announced the findings of an investigation into the Oct.
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket rolls to the launch pad
The Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected by NASA to provide launch services for an upcoming mission.
The company’s Antares 230+ is set to carry a Cygnus cargo spacecraft with crew supplies, equipment and experiments on board.
This will be Northrop Grumman’s fourth NASA resupply mission to the International Space Station in this program. In total, Northrop Grumman has launched 10 missions for NASA and has been under contract with them for nearly a decade.
This new configuration of Antares includes two RD-181 engines, manufactured by Russia’s NPO Energomash, and features a Ukrainian first stage from Zenit Design Bureau.
With these upgrades, Antares 230+ can deliver around 50% more payload than it could when it was last upgraded in 2016.
These upgrades are the result of Northrop Grumman and Orbital ATK merging their joint venture into one company called Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.
It also comes as NASA considers using private companies to transport astronauts and scientists to low Earth orbit in its Commercial Crew Program, something that was recently delayed after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 exploded during pre-launch testing last month.
The next flight for the Antares 230+, which will happen Friday, is expected to take off at 8:59 AM ET.
One day before launching the penultimate flight of its current Antares rocket configuration, Northrop Grumman announced plans to stop production of the AJ-26 engine due to safety concerns over their use.
The final flight of the current Antares rocket configuration
The upcoming flight of the Antares 230+ is a major milestone for Northrop Grumman’s commercial space program, as well as Orbital ATK.
The company will launch its penultimate Antares flight on May 21 – with Russian engines and a Ukrainian first stage. This will be Northrop Grumman’s seventh commercial resupply mission for NASA and fifth using this configuration of rocket.
The vehicle will deliver 7,600 pounds of supplies and science experiments, including critical materials needed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
If the next few launches go according to plan, this will be one of the last flights powered by the current engine configuration.
Future launches will be powered by Northrop Grumman’s new Antares 230+, which includes an American-made main engine, solid rocket motors and upper stage modifications made in Huntsville Alabama.
The revamped propulsion system gives Northrop Grumman more control over when it chooses to launch missions -and ensures that every payload reaches orbit safely.
The new rockets are currently undergoing final testing in California before being shipped to Virginia where they will be integrated onto two refurbished Antares rockets at their facilities in Wallops Island. Once there, teams will conduct tests to ensure everything operates smoothly.
Launches from Cape Canaveral have been suspended since October 2014 because of damage to an Atlas V rocket caused by Hurricane Matthew.
In February 2017 the US Government launched a lawsuit against Northrop Grumman claiming that the company knowingly provided defective parts for use in the military’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used during war operations overseas.
The trial continues today, but Northrop has released statements explaining how these claims lack merit due to a lack of evidence; further noting how UAV operations were not affected in any way by these defective parts.
The penultimate flight of the current Antares rocket configuration
The Antares 230+ is a variant of the current Antares rocket configuration, powered by two Russian RD-181 engines and a Ukrainian first stage.
This configuration will be used in the penultimate flight of the current Antares rocket configuration — one that utilizes Russian engines and a Ukrainian first stage.
The new engine will provide even more lift capacity than before, enabling us to place heavier payloads into orbit.
Plus, we are now able to use a wider range of propellants to optimize performance for every mission requirement.
The Antares 230+ vehicle stands at 200 feet tall and has an improved thrust-to-weight ratio compared to its predecessor.
It can carry up to 10 tons of cargo, which translates into a full load of fuel (1 million pounds) or six metric tons (13,200 pounds) in a pressurized capsule in addition to cargo delivered in unpressurized containers.
We look forward to starting our Antares 230+ campaign this year! Our heritage dates back to 1990 when Orbital Sciences Corporation was founded as a NASA contractor for deep space missions.
Today, Orbital ATK provides leading products and services in electronics systems; space data networks; precision weapons; spacecraft systems; armament systems; missile defense programs, satellite integration and construction services.
Our demonstrated expertise gives you unsurpassed benefits: proven reliability and low costs that offer cost savings with flexibility and efficiency throughout your entire system lifecycle.
The next generation of Antares rockets
The new Antares 230+ is much more powerful than its predecessor and will be able to deliver a 25% increase in payload when compared with the current generation of rockets.
It will be able to carry heavier cargo, allowing companies like Northrop Grumman to do more with less.
This model also includes a new avionics system and two RD-181 engines which are more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.
The RD-181s can reduce costs by 10% per flight, which is a substantial cost savings for any company that relies on space flight.
The development of the new Antares 230+ rocket came from feedback from customers who had expressed an interest in increased performance and increased flexibility.
With this model, not only will you have increased performance but you’ll also have greater reliability since the RD-181 engines are more dependable than their predecessors.
What’s next? The next Antares configuration would involve switching over to U.S.-built solid propellant motors.
Switching over would bring Northrop Grumman back into production of U.S.-built rockets after decades of dependence on Russian made engines due to sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014,
which brought about major challenges for U.S aerospace providers and led NASA to rely on Russian sources as well as other providers such as Europe’s Arianespace agency and India’s ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) .
These changes at NASA are designed to get us closer to Mars and back onto the moon so we may explore these areas more easily in coming years.