On February 20, for the first time in 2021, the Antares medium-lift launch vehicle lifted off from Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island (Virginia, the U.S.) at 19:36 Kyiv time (12:36 p.m. EST). The rocket lifted a Cygnus automatic cargo transport ship carrying about 8000 pounds of NASA supplies for the International Space Station.

The Antares launch vehicle comprises two stages. Antares’s Stage 1 Core Structure was developed by Yuzhnoye State Design Office and manufactured by Yuzhmash Production Association in cooperation with other Ukrainian companies such as Hartron-ARKOS, Kyivprylad, Hartron-YUKOM, CheZaRa, RAPID, and others at the request of Northrop Grumman (the U.S.).

Yuzhnoye State Design Office, Yuzhmash Production Association, and Hartron-ARKOS specialists participated in prelaunch, testing, and launch operations with Antares. Under the contract, Yuzhnoye State Design Office provided technical support, received, and processed telemetry data in real time. Ukrainian specialists have carried out all the operations under their responsibility in full.

The Ukrainian team has fulfill all its tasks under the Antares project concerning the design, testing, and manufacture of the hardware for the core structure of the rocket’s first stage.

In this mission, the Cygnus spacecraft is named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Cygnus is expected to rendezvous with the ISS on February 22 at 11:40 Kyiv time.

This mission’s targets:

- the main goal is to deliver food and supplies for astronauts and materials for scientific experiments, and take the waste cargo away from the ISS for disposal in dense atmosphere;

- to deliver the SBC-2 supercomputer developed by Hewlett Packard and NASA. The computer will be used for analyzing the data concerning astronauts’ health, decoding and analyzing their DNA aboard the ISS, and analyzing the data of monitoring polar ice concentrations and lightning in the Earth’s atmosphere;

- to put a group of CubeSats and nanosatellites into orbit.

Overall, Antares has made 14 flights with 13 successes since 2013.

The Antares project is the brilliant example of how Ukrainian space companies can successfully participate in international projects and play on the global space market.

Video of the launch: https://youtu.be/1XNTIaGJwPE

LINK: https://www.facebook.com/yuzhnoye/photos/a.968536906564412/3735307726553969