Through the Lens: Antares Returns to Flight on OA-5 Mission for NASA

Long exposure of Antares blasting off from Wallops Island. Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti

Long exposure of Antares blasting off from Wallops Island carrying the OA-5 mission. Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

On Monday night, Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket blasted off from Wallops Island, Va., for the first time in nearly two years since the Orb-3 launch accident. It marked the inaugural launch of the company’s new upgraded version of the rocket as well as its first night launch. Tens of thousands flocked to the Virginia shore to get a glimpse of Antares lighting up the night sky. Antares is the largest launch vehicle based out of Wallops and under clear conditions is visible in the night sky for hundreds of miles up and down the U.S. east coast.

This Antares was the first to fly in the 230 configuration, with a first stage powered by a pair of NPO Energomash RD-181 engines. While this engine design has been test fired on the ground, this launch was the first time the RD-181 ever flew. With more thrust than the Aerojet AJ-26 engines that powered previous Antares vehicles, the new version lifted off the pad noticeably faster.

This was also the first successful flight of the larger Castor 30XL upper stage, which was to be used on the failed Orb-3 mission in the Antares 130 configuration. The OA-5 mission is the first time Orbital ATK’s enhanced Cygnus spacecraft has been launched by Antares. The enhanced Cygnus flew twice on the ULA Atlas V and is capable of carrying significantly more cargo to the International Space Station. Even with a heavier payload, the Antares 230 put Cygnus into orbit a minute faster than previous versions. After weather delays from both Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Nicole and a 24-hour scrub for technical issues, Antares lifted off on Oct. 17 at 7:45 pm ET, the end of that day’s launch window.

The highly anticipated launch was a success and Cygnus is slated to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday.

All photos credit Elliot Severn and Cole Ippoliti for AmericaSpace, all rights reserved, please contact for use.

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Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

 

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti

Photo Credit: Cole Ippoliti

 

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

 

Video Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

Video Credit: Elliot Severn / AmericaSpace

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Missions » ISS » COTS » CYGNUS » Missions » ISS » COTS » CYGNUS » OA-5 »

1 comment to Through the Lens: Antares Returns to Flight on OA-5 Mission for NASA

  • James

    Thank you Elliot Severn for the lovely Antares visual update!

    Why do I love imagining a potential future 8.4 meter diameter kerolox Antares X with four SRBs from the SLS?

    Oh, I figured it out! We’re headed back to the Moon to do ISRU and lots of reliable super heavy launchers would be useful!

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