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 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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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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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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Astra Space Rocket Suffers “Anomaly” at Kodiak Island Spaceport

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

There’s a media report that the Astra Space’s One of Three booster suffered an “anomaly” on Monday while undergoing a dress rehearsal for a launch later this week from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Kodiak Island. KMXT radio reports:

No details have been released yet as far as what caused the anomaly or how it may affect the upcoming launch.

At 5 p.m. [Alaska Aerospace CEO Mark] Lester said the emergency response had concluded. “The area is still hazardous and should be avoided. There will be personnel on site overnight to monitor,” he said.

Astra Space is developing a booster capable of launching small satellites into low Earth orbit for a price of only $1 million per flight.

Upcoming Launches to Close Out March

Astra Space 1 of 3 rocket on the launch pad in Alaska. (Credit: DARPA webcast)

Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.

What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.

I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.

March 23/24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C
Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites
Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th)
Launch Site: Xichang, China

UPDATE: Launch successful.

March 24

Launch Vehicle: Astra Rocket 3.0 “1 of 3”
Payloads: TBA
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska

UPDATE: Media report of an “anomaly” during a dress rehearsal on Monday.. Extend of anomaly and new schedule uncertain. Doesn’t sound like they’re launching on Tuesday. More details here: https://kmxt.org/2020/03/anomaly-at-pacific-spaceport-complex-launch-rehearsal-no-injuries-as-a-result/

March 26

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payload: AEHF 6 military communications satellite
Launch Window: 2:57-4:57 p.m. EDT (1857-2057 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com

March 29

Launch Vehicle: Electron “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Payloads: Multiple CubeSats
Launch Window: 12:43-2:33 a.m. EDT (0443-0633 GMT)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com/

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has suspended preparations on this launch due to the coronavirus.

March 30
(Possibly Postponed)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com