Launch Spotlight: Astra preparing for its first launch from Florida’s Space Coast

Launching NASA’s ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) 41 mission, Astra is attempting its first-ever east coast launch. Astra successfully reached orbit last year after three failed attempts from the Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska. This mission is the first time Astra will deploy satellites – four in total from various universities and NASA centers.

Launch Date: Thursday, February 10, 3:00 p.m. EST

Rocket: Astra’s Rocket 3.3 (LV0008)

Payload: NASA’s ELaNa 41

Launch Pad: SLC-46, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

Destination: Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: Atlantic Ocean (Expendable)

What is Rocket 3.3?

Rocket 3.3 is Astra’s third interaction of its third rocket, hence the naming scheme. It is a smallsat launch vehicle capable of lifting up to 150 kg to a 500 km orbit around Earth. Astra’s philosophy is to build a cheaper and mass-producible rocket instead of pursuing reusability so all Astra rockets will be expended in the ocean. The first stage is powered by five Delphin engines and a single Ather engine on the second stage. In total, Astra has launched three times with the Rocket 3 family, with one successfully reaching orbit so far.

ELaNa 41 launch weather

The official weather forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron states that Astra will have a greater than 90% chance for acceptable conditions to launch. The primary concern will be cumulus clouds, of which few are expected. Should Astra scrub or delay from their February 8th attempt, they have the ability to attempt launch 24 hours later. There is expected to be a 70% chance for acceptable conditions on February 11th. Their primary concern will also be cumulus clouds.

Where to watch

Astra will be streaming the launch attempt on its website. You can also find coverage on Space Explored’s Twitter and a live blog closer to the launch window.

Featured Image: Astra / Jared Kraus

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