Is a california based company Launched its first orbital test flight On Friday night (September 11), its 38-foot-tall (12 m) rocket 3.1 vehicle was sent to the sky from the Pacific Spaceport complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Everything went well with the first launch. But then Rocket 3.1 began to drift, of course, to circulate the launch controllers for about 30 seconds after liftoff to turn on an engine shutdown for safety reasons. The booster came to Earth with a blast, which exploded The fireball is visible to some observers on the ground.
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Astra co-founder and chief technology officer Adam London told reporters during a teleconference Saturday afternoon that an analysis of preliminary data showed that the problem arose in the rocket 3.1’s guidance system, which “caused some minor roll oscillations in flight.” Brings it. ” . 12).
The fireball, however, was not dramatically dangerous, with Astra co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp saying the Rocket 3.1’s flight-ending system did its job as expected.
The two-stage booster is small enough to not require an onboard self-destruct system, he explained.
“We can really just be the reason Rocket By commanding the engines to land safely within a safety zone, “Kemp said.” This is a very effective technique. And that means the rocket has no explosives or fireworks, which makes it safe. ”
The guidance glitch appears to have been caused by a software issue, London and Kemp said. He said this was good news, when confirmed that the Astra’s route back to the launch pad would not be particularly long or grueling, he added.
“We could learn things that could bring us back in six months or a year,” Kemp said.
Instead, the necessary changes “will likely involve a software update to our guidance system,” he said. “This is fantastic news, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we would be up to Alaska before the end of the year with Rocket 3.2.”
Rocket 3.2 is almost ready to go. The final assembly and testing of the boosters, which is similar to Rocket 3.1, is underway at Astra’s Bay Area headquarters, London said.
Astra, which was founded in 2016, aims to successfully reach the classroom within three attempts. Kemp said the performance of Rocket 3.1 was encouraging on Friday night, putting the company on track to achieve that goal.
Thanks, @elonmusk We appreciate that we are encouraged by our progress going to class of https://t.co/CrH8iBYNpS out of our three flights today.September 12, 2020
For the long term, Astra intends to secure a large share of the mini-satellite launch market. Currently dominated by that market Rocket lab, Which gives younger people dedicated rides for the class (as planned to do Astra), and SpaceX, Which carries the Bantam spacecraft as “rideshare” on missions that woo large primary payloads.
Astra aims to engrave its niche with a cost-effective, flexible and highly responsive launch system. Astra representatives said the entire Rocket 3.1 launch system, for example, was deployed by only six people less than a week before Friday night’s test flight.
Kemp said, “Just not enough time is going to launch, which is being demanded by the new generation of smaller destination payloads on schedule.” “We are really excited to join Rocket Lab, SpaceX and other companies that are helping us better serve people on Earth with new services to connect and improve our lives to this next generation of satellites . ”
Mike Wall is the author of “Out That” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the discovery of foreign life. Follow her on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.