The Antares rocket has been cleared for its first test launch tomorrow at 5 pm (Eastern).

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The Antares rocket has been cleared for its first test launch tomorrow at 5 pm (Eastern).



  • I wish Orbital Science success, but I’m having a tough time seeing how they can compete with SpaceX. Their orbital vehicle isn’t recoverable, the payload capability is much smaller, and they’re giving up roughly 10% of the angular velocity of Cape Canaveral by launching from Wallops Island. I can’t find any published data for Antares cost-to-orbit, but the current $5300/kg for Falcon 9 and the projected $4100/kg for Falcon 9 v1.1 is going to be hard to beat. Perhaps the fact that most of Antares is built in Ukraine and Russia gives Orbital Science a favorable cost structure.

  • wodun

    The Antares is built with the specific purpose to send supplies to the ISS. It isn’t intended to serve the diversity of customers a Falcon 9 can.

  • Be that as it may, I’d think given the current state of the art, a recoverable orbital vehicle would be a minimum requirement for customers.

  • wodun

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you but in the case of Antares it is only intended to have one customer.

    “Once Orbital’s Antares rocket was selected by NASA to supply the International Space Station, the company purchased 20 of the engines from Aerojet to power 10 launches – two test flights and eight operational missions, ”

    Wikipedia says there were only 150 total engines. So it looks a small project just to serve NASA for a few years.

    It will be interesting to see if NASA will still purchases launches from them after the ten flights, if Orbital makes any more engine purchases, or even if Orbital starts manufacturing their own engines. Maybe they can even scale up their launchers with additional engines and put other companies vehicles on them.

    Who knows if they have any plans for re-usability but it is a good example of what can be done with current tech.

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