Astra Space Places Satellites into Orbit for First Time

Rocket 3.3 lifts off from Kodiak Island on March 15, 2022. (Credit: Astra Space/NASASpaceflight.com webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astra Space placed satellites into the orbit for the first time on Tuesday, marking a return to flight after a launch failure last month destroyed four CubeSats.

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Astra Space Scrubs Launch, Reschedules for Tuesday

Astra Rocket LV0008 after liftoff. (Credit: Brady Kenniston/Astra)

Astra Space scrubbed the ninth launch of its Rocket 3.3 booster from the Pacific Spaceport Complex –Alaska on Monday due to bad weather. The company is now targeting Tuesday, March 15 at 9:22 AM PDT (12:22 p.m. EDT) for the Astra-1 mission for Spaceflight Inc. Live stream will begin at T-45 minutes at astra.com/livestream.

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Astra Space Faces Class Action Lawsuits

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, whose first attempt to orbit satellites failed on Feb. 10, is facing class action lawsuits alleging that the small-satellite launch provider and its officers made false and misleading statements about the company’s capabilities. Astra Space went public last July in a merger with Holicity Inc., a blank check special purpose acquisition company.

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Astra Space Rocket 3.3 Fails, 4 Payloads Lost in First Operational Launch Attempt

Scott Manley put together this comparison of second stage separation and ignition of the successful flight no. 7 and today’s failed flight.

Astra Space’s first attempt to place satellites into orbit failed on Thursday, with the company’s Rocket 3.3 tumbling out of control after ignition of the booster’s second stage. Astra’s stock (ASTR) plunged by as more than 31 percent to a low of $3.59 before recovering to $3.91 in after-hours trading.

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Kaboom! ABL Space Destroys Second Stage in Test at Mojave

ABL Space Systems lost a second stage during a test in Mojave on Jan. 19, 2022. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A loud boom echoed across California’s Mojave Desert on Wednesday afternoon. I would normally pay little attention to it given how common such occurrences are in Mojave. But, this one was different: instead of nearly daily boom-boom of jet fighters from nearby Edwards Air Force Base going supersonic, this one was a single large BOOM!

And oh, there was a giant cloud of black smoke rising from the rocket test area at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Someone’s engine test had clearly gone awry.

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Florida Legislators Eye Tax Free Launches, State Subsidy for New Launch Complex

Falcon 9 launches 49 Starlink satellites from Florida. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Faced with increased competition from Texas, Georgia and other states, Florida legislators are eyeing new ways to keep companies launching from the Sunshine State. Florida Politics reports:

Zero G Zero Fee’ bills would create tax exemptions for anything launched into space from Florida.

What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, its fuel or even the concrete, steel and equipment needed to create the launch pad?

That would be the reality if lawmakers this Session approve legislation from Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Tyler Sirois (SB 1466HB 65)…

At the same time, Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando has introduced HB 9233, which would provide a $10 million appropriation for Florida to build a new multiuser launch pad at Cape Canaveral. Space Florida, the state’s space business development agency, has talked about the need for a launch pad that could be leased on a per-launch basis by companies that don’t have their own launch facilities, as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and others do.

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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.