November 12, 2017, 14:20 Kyiv time. A successful launch of the modernized launcher (ANN) "Antares" has been performed from the Space Flight Facility on the Wallops Island (Virginia, USA). Chief Developer of the launcher – Orbital ATK Corporation (USA).
The launcher is intended for delivery of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), as well as for launching commercial and state satellites. The launch vehicle consists of two stages and a Cygnus space ship (third stage).
The basic design of the first stage was developed by Yuzhnoye Design Office and manufactured by Yuzhmash Production Association in cooperation with Ukrainian enterprises "Khartron-ARKOS" (Kharkiv), "Kyivprylad" (Kyiv), "Khartron-Yukom" (Zaporizhya), "CHEZARA","RAPID" (Chernihiv) and others.
Preparation operations for the lift-off, its testing and commissioning was carried out under participation of specialists from Yuzhnoye, Yuzhmash and Khartron-ARKOS. Ukrainian experts fully ensured implementation of all operations in their area of responsibility. In accordance with the contract, technical support for the launch, reception and processing of telemetric information in real time was provided from the premises of Yuzhnoye.
Antares LV has injected into orbit a cargo ship Cygnus, to deliver 3350 kg of payload to the International Space Station. The cargo consisted of the equipment needed to operate the station. It should be noted that this is the maximum load being placed in orbit for all previous missions. The cargo ship of this mission is S.S. Gene Cernan Cygnus – named after the astronaut Eugene "Gene" Cernan.
From a low parking orbit, the Cygnus ship will perform a maneuver flight to the ISS to dock. After docking and unloading, Cygnus will be used for the first time as an orbital laboratory extension for experiments demonstrating the capabilities of Space Tango and Tangolab for low-gravity research.
Cygnus undocking from the ISS will take place in two weeks, after which it will disperse 14 cubsats. The mission will be then completed, and Cygnus will safely descend into the Earth's atmosphere and collapse over the Pacific Ocean.
This was the seventh launch that the Orbital ATK had contracted with NASA. Two more launches of Antares LVs are scheduled by the end of 2018.
Within the framework of "Antares" program, Ukrainian side has performed a complete set of works on the design, development and fabrication of the material part of the basic design of the LV's first stage, ordered by US National Aerospace Administration.
The Antares project is a successful example of participation of Ukrainian space industry enterprises in international space projects, intensification of foreign economic activities of enterprises, and enhancement of the presence of domestic rocket and space industry in the global space market.