On July 13, 2014, at 12:52 EDT (19:52 Kyiv time) another successful launch of the Antares rocket took place from the Regional NASA Spaceport at Wallops Island (Virginia). Antares will deliver the Cygnus cargo module to the International Space Station (ISS).
Cygnus carries more than 1.6 tons of scientific equipment, supplies and ISS life support.
Launching ceremony was preceded by a series of events, which on the invitation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), were attended by representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine to the United States, Orbital Sciences Corporation, State Enterprise of Ukraine Design Bureau Pivdenne and Machine-Building Plant Pivdenmash. During the meetings with the officials, including Charles Bolden, the Administrator of NASA, Ukrainian representatives emphasized the need to continue joint programs of space exploration and discussed new directions of development of the Ukrainian-American cooperation in space.
Ukrainian enterprises Pivdenmash and Pivdenne, which developed and manufactured the first stage of the Antares rocket, have a long-term agreement with American company Orbital Sciences Corporation. Funding for the program has been carried out by NASA in the amount of approximately 1.9 billion U.S. dollars.
The next, third Antares launch to deliver cargo to the International Space Station is scheduled for October this year.
The successful launch of the Antares rocket is yet another historic step for further development of Ukrainian-American relations in the aerospace and an important component of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States. The Antares project is a concrete example of practical partnership between the two states in this area.
The Antares rocket - a project developed by the American Orbital Sciences Corporation with the participation of subcontractors such as State Enterprise Design Bureau Pivdenne and Pivdenmash, Aerojet (U.S.), ATK (U.S.) and several others.
Under the partnership agreement, NASA contracted Orbital Sciences Corporation to create and run commercial delivery vehicles into orbit. The main purpose of Antares is the delivery of the NASA cargo to the International Space Station. Launches of Antares and Cygnus spacecraft will significantly enhance the NASA capabilities in carrying out research in microgravity.
The spacecraft Cygnus is scheduled to rendezvous and dock to the ISS on July 16, 2014. After performing a series of maneuvers, Cygnus will be captured by a mechanical manipulator and docked to the station with the Harmony module.
The Antares rocket is a two-stage liquid-fuel space launch vehicle, which is able to launch payloads weighing up to 5,000 kg into orbit.
The first stage of the Antares rocket has been designed by the Design Bureau Pivdenne and manufactured by the State Enterprise Pivdenmash under a long-term contract signed with Orbital Sciences Corporation in 2008, it is equipped with two rocket engines AJ-26-62 manufactured by American company Aerojet. Pivdenne completed the design and control of manufacturing capacities for fuel, pressure tanks, valves, sensors, fuel supply system and power pipes, wires and other related equipment of the first stage of the Antares rocket.
Image courtesy of NASA