The Antares rocket, known in early development as Taurus II, is an expendable launch system being developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation.
It is designed to launch payloads weighing up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) into low-Earth orbit. It is scheduled to make its first flight on 20 April 2013.
NASA awarded to Orbital a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract in 2008 to demonstrate delivery of cargo to the International Space Station. For these COTS missions Orbital intends to use Antares to launch its Cygnus spacecraft. In addition, Antares will compete for small-to-medium missions.
On Dec. 12, 2011 Orbital Sciences renamed the launch vehicle "Antares" from the previous designation of Taurus II, after the star of the same name name.