Astra reaches orbit for 1st time on test flight for US military
Astra has joined the orbital club.
The Bay Area startup's 43-foot-tall (13 meters) Launch Vehicle 0007 (LV0007) lifted off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska's Kodiak Island on Saturday (Nov. 20) at 1:16 a.m. EST (0616 GMT), carrying a dummy payload on a test flight for the U.S. military.
Just nine minutes later, LV0007's upper stage slipped into orbit about 310 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth, notching a huge milestone for Astra.
"We are absolutely bursting with pride at LV0007 — lucky number seven," Carolina Grossman, Astra's director of product management, said during a webcast of the launch. "This represents a huge, huge step in our mission to improve life on Earth from space."
Astra, which was founded in 2016, aims to secure a large portion of the small-satellite launch market with its line of cost-effective, ever-evolving rockets. Those rockets are designed to be highly responsive and flexible as well; Astra's entire launch system can be transported in just a few standard shipping containers.
The company already has a number of customers, some of whom are very high-profile. For example, in May, Astra announced that it had inked a launch contract with San Francisco company Planet, which operates the world's largest fleet of Earth-observing satellites.
© Provided by Space Astra's Launch Vehicle 0007 (LV0007) lifts off on a test flight from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska on Nov. 20, 2021.
And NASA selected Astra to launch its Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats mission, or TROPICS for short. TROPICS will study hurricanes using six tiny cubesats, which Astra will loft over three launches in the first half of 2022, if all goes according to plan.
Saturday morning's launch was Astra's fourth-ever orbital test flight. The first attempt, in September 2020, ended shortly after liftoff when the company's rocket suffered a problem with its guidance system.
Astra was back on the pad just three months later for try number number two, which succeeded in reaching space. However, the company's rocket ran out of fuel just a few seconds before attaining orbital velocity.
The third attempt occurred on Aug. 28. Just after liftoff that day, one of the five first-stage engines on Astra's LV0006 conked out, causing the rocket to slide horizontally off the pad. The vehicle recovered nicely and soared high into the Alaska sky, but the flight ended up being terminated after about 2.5 minutes.
All four of the orbital attempts to date have occurred from the Pacific Spaceport Complex, though Astra aims to launch from a variety of locations around the world eventually. The two most recent flights have been test missions for the U.S. military that carried dummy payloads not designed to be deployed.
We should expect more spaceflight action over the coming weeks and months from Astra, which hopes to ramp up to a nearly daily launch cadence by 2025.
"We have rocket serial number 8, 9, 10 in production," Astra CEO and co-founder Chris Kemp said during Saturday's webcast, just after LV0007 reached orbit. "We're just getting started."
Astra's ambitions extend beyond building and launching rockets. For example, the company is also developing its own satellite bus, which will allow customers to integrate their payloads into a spacecraft they don't have to build themselves. And Astra recently filed an application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to assemble a constellation of 13,600 internet-beaming satellites.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
Reference: Michael Wall: Space:
Articles - Latest
- Sugar-loving microbes could help power future cars, study shows
- Bulgaria bus crash: At least 45 killed after vehicle catches fire on motorway
- Suspect who 'intentionally' drove into crowds at Christmas parade 'was fleeing domestic disturbance'
- Nasa spacecraft will crash into asteroid to test defence technology
- Astronomers discover fastest spinning white dwarf star
- Malcolm X's daughter Malikah Shabazz found dead in Brooklyn apartment
- Politicians arrive at cathedral for Amess' funeral
- Denise Bryer, actress who voiced Little Weed in The Flowerpot Men and was married to Nicholas Parsons – obituary
- Double child killer Colin Pitchford arrested after being released from prison
- Funeral home sued for $88m for burying wrong body in mother’s plot
- Astra reaches orbit for 1st time on test flight for US military
- Rapper Young Dolph killed during shopping trip in home town
- ‘Their music lit a fire in me’: hearing the voices of three neglected composers gave me my own
- Fashion’s own ‘black widow’: the true story of the house of Gucci murder
- Rugby player, 40, dies just nine days after his wedding
- Solar storm warning: Stream of charged particles set to lash Earth - impact time predicted
- 20 infamous cases of whitewashing
- Chile desert is littered with gigantic mountain of used clothes
- Ronnie Wilson: Musician who brought groove to many funk hits
- Canada floods: Emergency services rescue hundreds trapped in cars in British Columbia
- Best-selling author Wilbur Smith dies
- Russia responds after debris from explosion caused emergency at International Space Station
- Three people stung to death as storms in Egypt wash scorpions and snakes into the streets
Articles - Most Read
- Contact Us
- Cosmic Consciousness - What is Cosmic Consciousness-2
- Cosmic Consciousness-Introduction
- Cosmic Consciousness - Introduction-2
- Cosmic Consciousness First Words - 1V - 2
- Cosmic Consciousness - What is Cosmic Consciousness?
- The Human Condition-Thomas Keating
- Cosmic Consciousness First Words - V -
- Cosmic Consciousness V - 2
- Cosmic consciousness - First Words - IV
- Cosmic Consciousness-On the Plane of Self Consciousness
- Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa
- The Human Condition - 4
- Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 2
- The Human Condition - Thomas keating-3
- The Human Condition-2-Thomas Keating
- Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 1
- Cosmic Consciousness - 3 - On the Plane of Self Consciousness
- The Human Condition - 6
- Milarepa's World
- Web Links
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness - 2
- The Human Condition - 5
- Milarepa's World-2
- The Buddhist System of Liberation
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness IV
- On the Plane of Self Consciousness IV - 2
- The Buddhist System of Liberation - 2
- Contemplation and the Divine Therapy - 2
- Contemplation and the Divine Therapy
- JERRY RAWLINGS, GHANAIAN STRONG MAN WHO CAME TO POWER IN A COUP BUT INTRODUCED DEMOCRACY – OBITUARY
- Mass grave discovered in Japan with bodies buried in circular holes
- Shakyamuni Buddha or India the 1st “Black Revolutionary Hero.”