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.  

The mission, designated STP-27AD1, is part of the DoD’s Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI) and it is the first DoD mission to utilize Astra’s Rocket 3 launch vehicle.

As part of RALI, the STP-27AD1 mission will demonstrate commercially available solutions for placing USSF satellite capabilities on orbit, proving flexibility and resiliency for the USSF to meet warfighter requirements in an increasingly contested environment. 

“We’re excited to partner with Astra under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative.” said Col. Carlos Quinones, director of the Space Test Program. “Astra’s pursuit of more flexible and cost effective space access could be a key enabler for our pivot to a more resilient enterprise space architecture.”

The DoD Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico manages the STP-27AD1 mission. This SMC unit delivers experimental demonstrations of new capabilities and expedient space access solutions for research and development experiments. 

STP procured this RALI mission in partnership with Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).  The initiative leverages DIU’s Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process to competitively and rapidly award DoD launch service agreements with non-traditional, commercial Venture Class companies.  Any future USSF small launch endeavors outside of the STP RALI will be contracted under SMC’s Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division, which focuses on small, innovative launch solutions.

The Space and Missile Systems Center is the U.S. Space Force’s Center of Excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems.  SMC’s portfolio includes space launch, global positioning, military space vehicle communications, defense meteorological space vehicles, range systems, space vehicle control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space domain awareness capabilities.