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.
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.
Astra’s attempt to launch its Rocket 3.1 booster from Alaska came to grief on Friday as the first stage failed in flight, causing the booster to fall back to Earth where it exploded on impact.
“Successful lift off and fly out, but the flight ended during the first stage burn,” the company tweeted. “It does look like we got a good amount of nominal flight time. More updates to come!”
Dramatic video posted on Twitter showed the rocket lift off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The roar of the engine suddenly stopped, and the rocket fell to Earth.
“We are excited to have made a ton of progress on our first of three attempts on our path to orbit! We are incredibly proud of our team; we will review the data, make changes and launch Rocket 3.2, which is nearly complete,” Astra tweeted.
Astra, which is based in Alameda, Calif., is attempting to develop an inexpensive rocket capable of launching payloads weighing 25–150 kg (55–331 lb) to a 500 km (311 mile) high sun-synchronous orbit for the ultra-low price of $1 million per flight.
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.
The DARPA Launch Challenge is nearing its end with modified rules and only one of three finalists left standing to win $12 million in prize money.
Astra Space will attempt to conduct two launches within days of each other from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The launches will take place from different pads at the spaceport and place satellites into different sun-synchronous trajectories.