Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Antares rocket and a new medium launch vehicle to serve commercial, civil and national security space launch markets.
“Through our collaboration, we will first develop a fully domestic version of our Antares rocket, the Antares 330, for Cygnus space station commercial resupply services, followed by an entirely new medium class launch vehicle,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman and Firefly have been working on a combined strategy and technical development plan to meet current and future launch requirements.”
Firefly’s propulsion technology utilizes the same propellants as the current Antares rocket, which minimizes launch site upgrades. The Antares 330 will utilize seven of Firefly’s Miranda engines and leverage its composites technology for the first-stage structures and tanks, while Northrop Grumman provides its proven avionics and software, upper-stage structures, and Castor 30XL motor, as well as proven vehicle integration and launch pad operations. This new stage will also significantly increase Antares mass to orbit capability.
“Firefly prides itself on being a disrupter in the new space industry and collaborating with a proven space pioneer like Northrop Grumman will help us continue that disruption,” said Peter Schumacher, interim CEO, Firefly.
The Antares 330 performance upgrade will enable Northrop Grumman to continue to support the company’s current contracts while planning for future mission capabilities.