- Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace are partnered to develop a new first stage for the Antares launch vehicle and upcoming medium-lift rocket.
- This collaboration would solve the current reliance of Northrop on Ukrainian and Russian suppliers for the Antares first stage that put the future of the vehicle into question.
On 8th Aug, Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace announced that they would work together to develop a new first stage for Northrop’s Antares launch vehicle and a future medium-lift rocket.
The new version of the Antares, known as the Antares 330, will feature the first stage using seven Miranda engines under development by Firefly. The stage will use Firefly composites for its tanks and structure.
The Antares 330 upper stage will be similar to what Northrop is using now on the Antares, with the company’s Castor 30XL solid-fuel motor and existing avionics and structures. The vehicle is designed to launch from the current pad at Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which has hosted all previous Antares launches.
Scott Lehr, Vice President & General Manager of launch missile defense systems at Northrop, said that by this collaboration, they would initially develop a complete domestic version of their Antares rocket, the Antares 330, for Cygnus space station commercial resupply services.
Benefit Of the Collaboration
The collaboration between the two companies would solve Northrop’s current reliance on Ukrainian and Russian suppliers for the Antares first stage, putting the future of the vehicle that is used for launching Cygnus cargo missions to the International Space Station in question. Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye State Design Office and Yuzhmash Machine Building plant produce the Antares first stage, which is powered by RD-181 engines from Russia’s NPO Energomash.
The two companies provided few details about their partnership, including financial aspects. Scott Day from Northrop Grumman said that the company expects the Antares 330 to be ready by the beginning of 2024. Northrop is buying three SpaceX Falcon 9 launches for its Cygnus spacecraft to cover the gap between the last launch of the current Antares and the new version.
For more such updates in Space technology Click here