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Antares 230+ launches for the final time


Russian RD-181 engines power Antares off the pad for the final time - Photo // Ryan Bale

On August 1st at 8:31pm EDT, Northrop Grumman's Antares 230+ series rocket launched for the final time from Launch Pad 0A at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Underneath the fairing was their Cygnus spacecraft with 8,200 lbs of supplies and experiments for the International Space Station.


This launch marked the retirement of the Antares 230+ series with the first stage booster no longer being supplied from Ukraine and the RD-181 engines no longer being accepted from Russia.


Up next in the line of Antares rockets is the 330 series, set to debut in the summer of 2025, which boasts an upgraded first stage provided by Firefly Aerospace. This new first stage uses the same composite materials as Firefly's Beta rocket (Their in-development Medium-Launch Vehicle) and also sports the same 7 Miranda engines as that same rocket. This new configuration for Antares increases thrust almost 1.9x from the 230+ series, up to 7,200kN of thrust. This increase of performance means the Antares 300 series will be more capable in terms of mass to orbit, allowing Cygnus to carry more to the ISS and possibly launch more payloads from Wallops Flight Facility, VA.


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