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Northrop teams up with Firefly Aerospace to upgrade Antares rocket

The new version of the Antares, called the Antares 330, will feature the first stage using seven Miranda engines under development by Firefly. 
Photo credit: Firefly Aerospace’s Twitter

Northrop Grumman Corporation 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.

Commenting on the partnership, Scott Lehr, Vice President and General Manager of Launch and Missile Defence Systems at Northrop Grumman, said: “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. 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 utilises the same propellants as the current Antares rocket, which minimises launch site upgrades. The Antares 330 will utilise 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.

Peter Schumacher, Interim CEO of Firefly, added: “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.”

The Antares 330 performance upgrade will enable Northrop Grumman to continue to support the company’s current contracts while planning for future mission capabilities.

Firefly Aerospace is an emerging end-to-end space transportation company focused on developing a family of launch vehicles, in-space vehicles, and services to provide affordability, convenience, and reliability to its government and commercial customers.