Back in early March, a small satellite launch company called Astra attempted to launch its first orbital rocket as part of the DARPA Launch Challenge. Launch conditions weren’t cooperative, however, and the launch attempt was scrubbed. Months later, Astra returned to Kodiak, Alaska, for another launch attempt.
The September launch of Rocket 3.1 was successful to some degree as the rocket did leave the ground and began heading for orbit. However, early in the flight, problems started to arise with the rocket’s guidance system. This issue ultimately caused the rocket to drift off-course, shutdown, and crash back on Earth before ever reaching orbit.
More recently, Astra announced that they would be making a third launch attempt as early as December 7. “As we’ve always said, we expect it to take three flights to make it to orbit,” Astra positioned. It appears Astra is going with the “third times the charm” mentality when it comes to finally reaching orbit — not unlike SpaceX.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a NOTAM, or notice to airmen, on Friday that approves a temporary flight restriction, or TFR, over the Kodiak launch site in Alaska. The notice covers Thursday, December 10, through Friday, December 18. Astra later confirmed that the TFR was for its upcoming Rocket 3.2 attempt that will happen during the week-long window between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. PST.
While December 10 at 10 a.m. PST is the earliest launch opportunity for Astra’s Rocket 3.2, we expect to learn closer to the launch window if weather and other launch factors will allow for liftoff.
Make sure you keep an eye on Space Explored as we will be providing up-to-date coverage of the upcoming launch.