The Ukrainian-U.S. Antares launcher rocketed into orbit, deploying a ship carrying cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), the press service of the State Space Agency of Ukraine has reported.
“The launch vehicle rocketed into orbit the Cygnus supply ship, carrying about 3,629 kg of NASA payload to the International Space Station – packaging for the crew, materials for scientific research, equipment for the station and spacewalk, computers and components, CubeSats,” the agency said last week.
The launcher took off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, the United States at 19:36 Kyiv time on February 20 and it is the first launch of the Antares LV in 2021.
The preparation of launch vehicle Antares, its tests and start-up were carried out by specialists of SOE Design Bureau Pivdenne (Yuzhnoye), SOE Pivdenmash (Yuzhmash) and Hartron-Arkos scientific-production association. From the territory of Design Bureau Pivdenne, the launch support was provided in real time, telemetric information was processed.
According to the space agency, the Antares launch vehicle consists of two stages and the Cygnus supply ship (third stage). The main design of the first stage was developed by SOE Design Bureau Pivdenne and manufactured by SOE Pivdenmash in cooperation with the Ukrainian enterprises Khartron-Arkos (Kharkiv), Kyivprylad (Kyiv), Hartron-UCOM (Zaporizhia), CHEZARA (Chernihiv Plant of radio equipment), RAPID (Cherhiniv-based sensor enterprise), etc. The main designer of the launch vehicle is U.S. Northrop Grumman.
“I hope that soon the Ukrainian cooperation of enterprises will produce a fully domestic product – a medium-class launch vehicle, which will become the flagship of our rocket industry for the coming years,” acting head of the agency Mykhailo Lev said.
The launch of the Antares carrier rocket, created by the American Orbital ATK Corporation with the participation of Ukrainian enterprises, has been carried out from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in the United States, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly has said. The Antares rocket is a successful example of interaction between the Ukrainian and U.S. space companies in the field of peaceful space exploration, the ambassador said on his Facebook page.
“Thus, the main construction of the first degree rocket was developed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and manufactured at the Makarov Southern Machine-Building Plant in cooperation with the Ukrainian enterprises Khartron-Arkos, Khartron-UKOM, Rapid, etc. Ukrainian specialists took an active part in the tests of Antares, which were conducted in the United States,” Chaly said.
“It is this rocket that should deliver the Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station,” he added.
The ambassador recalled that in June 2018, the American company Orbital ATK, Ukraine’s partner in this project, became a division of one of the most powerful defensive corporations in the United States — Northrop Grumman Inc.