California-based spaceflight startup launched First orbital test flight Tonight (September 11), is sending its two-stage rocket 3.1 to the sky from Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska at 2.20pm EDT (7:20 am local Alaska time and September 12 at 0320 GMT).
The 38-foot-long (12 m) booster, which was carrying a payload, did not make it to the final limit.
“Successful lift off and take flight, but the flight ended during the first stage burn. It looks like we’ve got a decent amount of nominal flight time. More updates to come!” Astra tweeted tonight.
related: History of rocket
Pad Rocket 3.1 Great Shot! pic.twitter.com/g8uo6N2HQwSeptember 12, 2020
The failure was no shock; The first flight rarely floats, and Astra clearly stated that perfection was not expected on this. In Prelaunch Mission Description, Company representatives wrote that the primary objective was to achieve a modest first-stage barn, which would keep the Astra on track to reach orbit for three flights.
It did not happen, but it appears that the company will still have little data to analyze for the next attempt. And Astra still aims to go to a class of three attempts or less.
“We’re excited to make a ton of progress on the first of three attempts on our path in our class! We’re incredible on our team; we’ll review the data, make changes, and launch Rocket 3.2, which is almost complete Is, “wrote in Astra Another tweet tonight.
We are excited to progress a ton on the first of our three efforts in our class! We are incredibly proud of our team; We will review the data, make changes and launch Rocket 3.2, which is almost complete. @: @johnkrausphotos pic.twitter.com/K0R7A0Q8wcSeptember 12, 2020
Astra plans to provide cost-effective, dedicated rides in space for smaller satellites, which are becoming more and more capable. The company’s website currently offers delivery services in the 310-mile-high (500 kilometers) class for payloads weighing between 110 pounds. And 330 lbs. (50 to 150 kg).
Another California-based company, Rocket Lab, currently has a strugle on the growing small-industry market, but Astra feels it can make a bigger size for itself by offering a cheaper alternative.
“What we’re trying to do is build a service that has lower operating costs and lower the cost of providing a launch service,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said during a July 30 interaction with reporters. Cheap rockets, a highly automated factory, a highly automated launch operation and, in fact, just a real focus on efficiency and eliminating costs from every aspect of service so that we can achieve scale and ultimately economies of scale and production To reduce costs. ”
(SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and other large boosters are rapidly losing small spacecraft, but usually as a piggyback “rideshare” on missions whose main purpose involves orbiting one or more large satellites. Rocket Lab provides dedicated rides for satellites as small as Astra. Plans to do as well)
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
Astra initially planned to launch its first orbital mission in February or March of this year as part of the $ 12 million DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) launch challenge. But bad weather and technical issues with the Rocket 3.0, the boosters are scheduled to make that flight, Company stopped By completing the narrow launch window of the competition.
Rocket 3.0 was damaged in late March, during preparation for another launch effort that was not affiliated with the DARPA Launch Challenge. So the Orbital-liftoff milestone fell to its successor, Rocket 3.1. Bad weather and technical issues pushed the Rocket 3.1 flight backward several times until tonight.
Tonight’s launch was the third overall for the Astra, which attempted sub-orbital flights in 2018 with two prior rocket iterations.
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 him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.