Antares (rocket)

The Antares rocket (formerly Taurus II ) is a launcher medium capacity, which was developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. NASA awarded under the COTS program, a contract to Orbital for the transport of cargo to the International Space Station ( ISS). The primary payload of the Antares is the Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The first launch of Antares was held on 21 April 2013. The first launch of Cygnus to the ISS on 18 September 2013.


The program started in 2007 under the name Taurus II rocket but was renamed in December 2011 by the manufacturer in Antares, because the last two launches of the Taurus XL had failed and a bad image for the new rocket should be avoided. Antares is the name of the brightest star in the constellation Scorpio. NASA invested $ 170 million and OSC another 150 million in the project. Of this $ 130 million for the launch vehicle and 20 million were used for the cargo spaceship Cygnus.

On June 10, 2008 it was announced that the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia will be the main launch site for the missile. A completely new launch pad was built at the location of the demolished Conestoga launch pad LP -0A; the name of the ramp was maintained.


First stage

The first stage is driven by two engines of the type Kuznetsov NK -33. There are still about 60 engines, of which the half is at the company Aerojet, where they were designated AJ26 -62. The other engines are in a factory in Samara. The first stage of 3.90 m diameter was chosen to be identical to Zenit rocket in order to produce the tanks and structures with the same production methods. The first stage is just like the zenith of Yuzhnoye produced and developed. OSC takes the integration and acceptance tests. The first stage is used as a fuel combination kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Second stage

The second stage is a castor -30 engine. He uses solid fuel. Three variants of the Castor 30 motor are used:

  • Castor 30A at the Antares 110 (2 test flights )
  • Castor -30B in versions Antares -120, -121 and -122
  • Castor 30XL in versions Antares -130, -131 and -132

Another second stage was examined by Orbital Sciences as a substitute for the Castor -30 booster in order to carry heavier payloads. This level should be driven by a PWR35M - Pratt & Whitney, which uses the fuel blend liquid methane and liquid oxygen. It would allow to bring payloads of up to 7600 kg into low Earth orbit, but the plans seem to have been abandoned.

The third stage

There are two optional third levels are available. The first is called "Bi- Propellant Third Stage " (BTS ), they used a hypergolic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer; these are pressure-fed by helium. It is developed by Orbital. It is a derivative of previous developments. The hardware is derived from the OSC Star -2 bus, other elements come from the DART mission. The second is a star - 48BV - solid rocket motor with thrust vector control to bring payloads to higher speeds. The Antares 110, -120 and -130 are without third stage. The Antares -121 and -131 have the BTS as the third stage, and the Antares -122 and -132 have the solid motor starter 48BV as the third stage.

Payload fairing

For take-off with satellites and space probes represents the Antares a fairing available. The payload fairing is 9.9 m long and has, like the entire rocket, 3.9 m in diameter. Your tip is a rounded double cone, however, the second stage extends into it, so that from this the length is only 7.52 meters to the top of the payload fairing, which they to 3.9 m in length the full inside diameter of 3.45 m offers. Moreover, the diameter of the fairing from a double cone.


The Antares rocket can be assembled modularly from different components depending on application. For the particular configuration results in the three -digit version number:

  • The first digit: refers to the first stage. Currently, there is only one version.
  • The second digit: indicates the type of the second stage: 1 = Castor 30A
  • 2 = Castor -30B
  • 3 = Castor 30XL
  • 0 = no third stage
  • 1 = BTS (Bi- Propellant Third Stage )
  • 2 = Star 48BV


The first launch of Antares was originally scheduled for March 2011 but after several shifts occurred only on 21 April 2013. According to this demonstration launch the Antares launched on 18 September 2013 Cygnus 1 into space. In the first two flights, the testing variant Antares -110 will be used. For the next two Cygnus missions the Antares 120 is used, which is then replaced by the more powerful Antares 130.

Start list

This is a complete start list of the Antares rocket. State of the list: September 18, 2013

Planned start

State of the list: March 21, 2014

¹ Gross Weight = ( Satellite Adapter, enclosure etc. )

² NOT necessarily the target orbit of the payload, but the path on which the payload from the upper stage to be exposed.