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.

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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Alaska Aerospace Corp. Hires New CEO

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AAC PR) — The Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) announces the hiring of Milton B. Keeter Jr. to serve as the Company’s new CEO. Milton will be stepping into the CEO position that has been held by acting CEO John Cramer who has been in place since former CEO Mark Lester left June 30, 2021.

Milton Keeter brings a wealth of space launch experience to Alaska Aerospace. His expertise in launch range safety and FAA space launch licensing is especially strong. Prior to joining Alaska Aerospace, Milton was the Director of Launch Safety and Licensing at ABL Space Systems, El Segundo, Ca. and before that role he was the Vice President of Launch Operations, Head of Safety and Launch Licensing for Astra Space, Inc. Alameda Ca.

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Agnikul Cosmos Signs MOU to Use ISRO Facilities to Develop Launch Vehicle

Agnibaan small-satellite launcher (Credit: Agnikul Cosmos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Indian startup Agnikul Cosmos signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MOU) with India’s Department of Space on Friday for access to ISRO facilities and expertise for the development of its two-stage small-satellite Agnibaan launch vehicle.

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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.

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 Plans Next Launch in Late August From Kodiak Island

Video Caption: The Final System Test, also known as the “hot fire” engine test for Astra’s Launch Vehicle 0006.

Astra is hoping the third time will be a charm.

The publicly-traded launch provider will make another attempt to reach orbit with its Rocket 3 booster late this month from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The window for the launch attempt opens on Aug. 27 and runs until Sept. 11.

Astra’s first commercial launch includes a payload for the U.S. Space Force (USSF). It is the first of two launches ordered by the military service.

Astra’s two previous orbital launch attempts failed. The first rocket was destroyed shortly after launch in September 2020 after it began to veer off course. A second rocket launched last December reached space but lacked sufficient velocity to enter orbit.

On July 1, Astra became a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq exchange after a merger with Holicity.

Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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SPACovirus Sweeps Space Sector

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)
Wall Street’s latest easy money craze has attracted a growing number of space companies. But, just because they can go public, should they?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Seven space companies have gotten caught up in the SPACovirus sweeping through Wall Street. The impact on the space industry is going to be interesting to watch.

A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition company. It’s a publicly traded investment firm that, with outside investors, acquires or merges with another company, and then takes the acquisition public under its own name.

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Video: Astra Rocket Flies to Space

Astra Space’s Rocket 3.2 reached space but came up just short of reaching orbit on Tuesday after launch from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

Astra Rocket 3.2 Launch Window has Opened

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

Update: Astra stood down on Friday due to weather.

Editor’s Note: Astra said it will begin tweeting 15 minutes prior to a launch attempt. Follow https://twitter.com/Astra for updates.

ROCKET 3.2 PRESS KIT

LAUNCH WINDOW

11 December – 18 December

DAILY LAUNCH OPPORTUNITY

10:00 am– 1:00 pm Kodiak Time
11:00 am – 2:00 pm Pacific Time
6:00 – 9:00 pm UTC

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Indian Startup to Test Smallsat Launcher in Alaska

Indian startup Agnikul Cosmos Launch Vehicles has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to test its Agnibaan booster at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Kodiak Island.

The agreement commits Agnikul and Alaska Aerospace Corporation to working together to obtain regulatory and export control approvals from the Indian and American governments for an initial test launch in 2022, CNBC TV18 reports.

“We are thrilled Agnikul has partnered with Alaska Aerospace for high inclination flight testing. Agnikul has established itself as a leading rocket technology company, and we are pleased Alaska’s proven launch infrastructure and expertise continue to attract new space launch companies from around the world,” said Mark Lester, president and CEO of Alaska Aerospace.

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