[Update: Anomaly during flight, launch concluded] Astra attempting first payload to orbit on 4th Rocket 3 launch

Astra plans to launch their first commercial mission on top of their Rocket 3 vehicle. While the rocket has yet to reach orbit, the issue that caused the shortcoming was very minor and Astra is confident it will make it to orbit this time on this 4th launch. The payload on this mission will be the first of 2 demonstration missions for the US Space Force named STP-27AD1. This mission will be the companies first launch of the year.

Date: Friday, August 28th at 6:35 p.m. EDT

Rocket: Astra Rocket 3.3, LV0006

Payload: STP-27AD1, US Space Force

Launch Pad: Pad 3B, Pacific Spaceport Complex Kodiak Island, Alaska

Landing Site: Astra’s rocket will be expended into the Pacific Ocean.

About Astra’s Rocket 3.3

Astra’s unique rocket naming scheme is more similar to what you might see from software companies. Each rocket has been improved on so the second number continues to increase as launches progress. If this mission is successful there’s a possibility the incremental numbering of the rockets will stop since the company has switched to referring to the rockets in an LVXXXX naming scheme.

Astra’s Rocket 3 is a two-stage smallsat launcher that uses RP-1 (a rocket-grade kerosene) and liquid oxygen for its fuel. The first stage is powered by 5 Delphin engines and the second stage by a single Aether engine. The rocket can carry up to 150 kg to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit. In total, the rocket has been tried to launch 3 times, all missing orbit because of some sort of issue but for this launch the company is confident will make orbit.

Two future versions of this rocket are planned to be developed out of their factory in California. Rocket 4 is intended to be an upgraded variant of Rocket 3, boasting up to 700 kg to orbit. While Rocket 5 is meant to be a version of Rocket 3 that can be used for suborbital point-to-point transportation of goods.

Launch updates

Saturday, August 28th, 6:40 p.m. EDT: The vehicle looked to have begun to spin out of control just prior to Max-Q which is the maximum point of aerodynamic pressure on the rocket. The stream played a video confirming the anomaly and ended the live coverage.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:38 p.m. EDT: Termination command has been sent to the rocket.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:37 p.m. EDT: Callout saying they are approaching nominal trajectory.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:35 p.m. EDT: The rocket seemed to slide sideways off the pad. No commit if that is nominal.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:35 p.m. EDT: T-0 and liftoff, very slow liftoff.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:34 p.m. EDT: T-1 minute

Saturday, August 28th, 6:30 p.m. EDT: T-5 minutes till launch and range has given the go-ahead for launch.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:26 p.m. EDT: All teams are GO for launch.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:25 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes and the team is going through their final GO/NO-GO poll.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:21 p.m. EDT: Count was held briefly for a “minor engine configuration change”. Count reset to T-15 minutes with a new launch time of 6:35 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:20 p.m. EDT: A new hold has been set at T-12 minutes and 30 seconds. Awaiting details.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:15 p.m. EDT: T-15 minutes and counting for Astra’s Rocket 3.3 launch. All systems performing nominally for launch so far.

Saturday, August 28th, 6:00 p.m. EDT: Hold has been released.

Saturday, August 28th, 5:58 p.m. EDT: Hold is planned to be released at the top of the hour.

Saturday, August 28th, 5:30 p.m. EDT: At T-30 minutes till launch, the Launch Coordinator announced a hold in order to catch up on fueling propellents.

Saturday, August 28th, 5:04 p.m. EDT: Astra mentions that the reason for the abort yesterday was due to the engines starting up slower than expected. A new planned hold was added to the countdown that should fix the issue.

Saturday, August 28th, 5:00 p.m. EDT: T-1 hour and the live stream has started.

Saturday, August 28th, 4:46 p.m. EDT: Astra has once again pushed the launch time back to 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, August 28th, 4:01 p.m. EDT: Astra announced a new launch time of 5:45 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, August 28th, 11:00 a.m. EDT: After working the problem overnight teams have solved the issue that scrubbed the launch yesterday. They will attempt to launch again today at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Friday, August 27th, 5:52 p.m. EDT: A scrub was called for the launch attempt for the day.

Friday, August 27th, 5:48 p.m. EDT: Astra says they are looking into the issue and hope to make another attempt today.

Friday, August 27th, 5:45 p.m. EDT: Looks like the rocket has aborted the launch at T-0.

Friday, August 27th, 5:38 p.m. EDT: Teams have polled GO for launch.

Friday, August 27th, 5:30 p.m. EDT: A new launch time has been set for 5:45 p.m. EDT.

Friday, August 27th, 4:39 p.m. EDT: The countdown is entering a hold due to a software configuration issue. New T-0 time coming when resolved.

Friday, August 27th, 4:00 p.m. EDT: A new launch time of 5:00 p.m. EDT has been set for today’s launch.

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