Astra Space Makes It to Orbit

Rocket 3 lifts off from Kodiak Island. (Credit: Astra Space webcast)

The fourth time was a charm for Astra Space.

The company succeeded in reaching Earth orbit for the first time with its Rocket 3 booster on Friday evening. The small-satellite booster put a mass simulator into orbit after liftoff from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

The demonstration launch was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center as part of the Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI). The initiative aims to demonstrate commercially available solutions for placing U.S. Space Force payloads into orbit on a flexible schedule.

The two-stage Rocket 3 is 11.6 meters (38 ft) tall with the capability of placing 25-150 kg (55-331 lb) into a 500 km (310 mile) sunsynchronous orbit.

Rocket 3 had failed in three previous attempts from the Alaskan spaceport. The first failed shortly after liftoff, the second reached space but lacked sufficient velocity to enter orbit, and the third took off sideways after one of its first stage engines failed a second after liftoff. The booster continued to fly but was destroyed by the range safety officer after it flew outside of its assigned airspace.

Planned Comsat Constellations Now Exceed 94,000 Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.

A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.

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Space SPACs Earnings Week

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)

Five space companies that went public by merging with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) report earnings this week.

Monday, Nov. 8

Virgin Galactic
5 p.m. EST (22:00 UTC)
https://investors.virgingalactic.com/news/news-details/2021/Virgin-Galactic-Announces-Date-of-Third-Quarter-2021-Financial-Results-and-Conference-Call/default.aspx

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Momentus
5 p.m. EST (22:00 UTC)
https://investors.momentus.space/news-releases/news-release-details/momentus-announces-date-third-quarter-2021-financial-results-and

Wednesday, Nov. 10

Redwire
8:30 a.m. EST (13:30 UTC)
https://ir.redwirespace.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/32/redwire-corporation-to-report-third-quarter-2021-results-on

Spire Global
5 p.m. EST (22:00 UTC)
https://ir.spire.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/76/spire-global-inc-schedules-third-quarter-2021-results

Thursday, Nov. 11

Astra Space
4:30 p.m. EST (21:30 UTC)
https://investor.astra.com/news-releases/news-release-details/astra-report-third-quarter-financial-results-november-11-2021

Astra Space Applies to Launch More than 13,000 Satellites; Proposed Broadband Constellations Exceed 79,000 Spacecraft

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the launch more than 13,000 communications satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), joining SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon and other companies seeking to provide broadband services across the globe. The application brings the number of proposed satellites in these constellations to more than 79,000.

“The Astra Constellation as proposed would ultimately consist of as many as 13,620 operational LEO satellites, supported by a global network of gateway earth stations utilizing the identified V-band frequency bands for feeder links for space-to-earth transmit and receive,” the company’s application said.

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Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure, Sets Window for Next Flight

Rocket 3.3 makes a wobbly liftoff from Kodiak Island after losing a first stage engine. (Credit: NASASpaceflight.com/Astra Space webcast)

ALAMEDA, Calif., October 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) – Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced a commercial orbital launch on behalf of the United States Space Force. The launch vehicle, LV0007, will carry a test payload for the Space Test Program’s second mission STP-27AD2. The launch window is divided into two segments: the first segment is open from October 27, 2021 through October 31, 2021, and the second is open from November 5, 2021 through November 12, 2021. LV0007 will launch from the Astra Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.

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Report: Firefly Sells Reaver Engines to Astra Space

Reaver engines (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

Firefly Aerospace’s recent announcement that it would supply rocket engines to other companies left everyone wondering what customers it had in mind. The Verge reports that Astra Space is a buyer.

Under the deal, which closed earlier this year, Firefly will send up to 50 of its Reaver rocket engines to Astra’s rocket factory in Alameda, California, where a development engine was already delivered in late spring for roughly half a million dollars, according to an internal Firefly document viewed by The Verge and a person briefed on the agreement. Astra engineers have been picking apart the engine for detailed inspection, said a person familiar with the terms, who, like others involved in the deal, declined to speak on the record because of a strict non-disclosure agreement.

Astra’s vice president of communications Kati Dahm declined to discuss the agreement when asked by The Verge for comment on specific details, but disputed as incorrect the number of engines that the deal covers, as well as the cost of roughly a half million dollars for the initial development engine that’s sitting in Astra’s factory. Dahm declined to provide any additional information to back up those disputes.

Fusing Firefly’s engines with Astra’s own rocket technology would help Astra reach its publicly stated “500 kg to 500 km” goal, or the capability to send 1,102 pounds of satellites into the most popular orbital altitude for mega-constellations. The company’s current rocket — simply called Rocket, nothing else — has been test-launched through various iterations, and after three main attempts, has yet to reach orbit. The latest rocket iterations use five of the company’s own Delphin engines, which are designed to lift up to 331 pounds to low-Earth orbit.

Astra Space’s first three launches failed for different reasons. The most recent suffered the failure of one of its five first-stage engines one second after ignition.

Astra Space Says Rocket 3.3 Engine Shut Down After Ignition, Booster Intentionally Shut Down in Flight

Rocket 3.3 makes a wobbly liftoff from Kodiak Island after losing a first stage engine. (Credit: NASASpaceflight.com/Astra Space webcast)

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Astra Space PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) conducted a test launch of its launch vehicle, LV0006.

The launch vehicle lifted off at 3:35P M PT on Saturday, August 28, 2021. One of the five main engines shut down less than one second after liftoff, causing the vehicle to slowly lift off the pad before resuming its trajectory. After approximately two minutes and thirty seconds of flight, the range issued an all engine-shutdown command, ending the flight. The vehicle achieved an altitude of approximately 50 kilometers, before safely returning to Earth.

“We regret that we were unable to accomplish all mission objectives for the U.S. Space Force; however, we captured a tremendous amount of data from this test flight,” said Chris Kemp, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Astra. “We will incorporate learnings from this test into future launch vehicles, including LV0007, which is currently in production.”

Astra has opened a mishap investigation and is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

About Astra Space

Astra’s mission is to improve life on Earth from space by creating a healthier and more connected planet. Astra’s first flight to space was within 4 years of its inception, making it the fastest company to reach space. Visit www.astra.com to learn more about Astra.

Astra Space Fails in Third Attempt to Reach Orbit

Rocket 3.3 makes a wobbly liftoff from Kodiak Island after losing a first stage engine. (Credit: NASASpaceflight.com/Astra Space webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3 failed to reach orbit again on Saturday after liftoff from an Alaskan launch site, marking the third straight failure for the now public company.

The booster had a rough take-off, moving laterally in an unusual manner before recovering to fly toward space. Astra Space later revealed that one of the rocket’s five first stage Delphin engines shut down one second after launch. It is not known why the engine failed.

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Astra Reschedules Rocket 3.3 Launch to Saturday After Last-second Abort

Astra Space will attempt to launch its Rocket 3.3 booster today, Saturday, after a last-second abort on Friday due to a guidance issue. The window for the launch from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska opens at 2 p.m. PDT (2100 UTC).

It will be the third attempt by the California-based company to launch its Rocket 3 booster into orbit. The vehicle is carrying a military payload.

Live streaming will start one hour before launch here.

Astra’s Apollo Fusion Thruster Ignites on First Attempt in Orbit with Spaceflight

A complete ACE Max thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

Ignition demonstrates technology-proven and cost-effective electric propulsion (EP) system 

ALAMEDA, Calif., August 24, 2021 (Astra Space/Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR), today announced the successful orbital ignition of its Apollo Fusion thruster on board the Spaceflight Sherpa-LTE1 orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). The Sherpa OTV launched June 30 from SpaceX’s Transporter-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After successfully deploying all rideshare payloads, Spaceflight commissioned the Apollo Fusion thruster, representing Astra’s first attempt at firing the thruster in orbit, marking a significant technical milestone.  

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Spaceflight Inc. Achieves 100% Mission Success for SXRS-5, Including Post Deployment Thruster Ignition of Its Electric Propulsion OTV

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., August 24, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — During the 36th Space Symposium being held this week, Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, announced it achieved 100% mission success for both its primary and secondary missions for SXRS-5, including the commissioning and successful firing of Astra’s Apollo Fusion electric propulsion system to enable orbital transfers. The mission, which launched on June 30 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-2 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, featured two of the company’s innovative next-generation Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) — Sherpa-LTE1 and Sherpa-FX2.  

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Astra Space Reports Quarterly Loss of $31.3 Million

ALAMEDA, Calif., August 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended June 30, 2021.

“Astra achieved several key milestones in the first half of 2021 to further its mission to improve life on Earth from space,” said CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder Chris Kemp. “Astra obtained significant funding to further our plan for rapid, low-cost access to space by completing the Holicity merger and associated PIPE transaction. We delivered on key customer initiatives by winning our second NASA contract in a row (TROPICS) and signing a long-term launch deal with Planet Labs. And last week, we announced Space Force as our first commercial customer for a test launch planned during a sixteen-day window beginning August 27, 2021. I am pleased with our execution and want to thank the entire Astra team for their dedicated efforts. We all look forward to the upcoming launch.”

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SMC Partnering with Astra for Upcoming USSF Launch

Rocket 3.1 after liftoff from Kodiak Island in Alaska. (Credit: Astra)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center will partner with Astra, a wholly-owned U.S. company based in Alameda, California, to perform a demonstration launch for the Department of Defense from the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska later this month.  

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Astra Announces Launch Contract with Spire Global

Astra’s Rocket 3.2 on the launch pad. (Credit: John Kraus)

ALAMEDA, Calif., August 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (NASDAQ: ASTR), named Spire Global, Inc.,  as a launch customer, with plans to begin launching with Astra next spring.

“Our platform requires regular and reliable access to space,” said Robert Sproles, Senior Director, Constellation Planning and Operations at Spire Global Inc. “Astra’s dedicated launch service will provide the flexibility to deliver our satellites to the specific orbits they require, on our schedule.”

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