Astra returns to space with second successful launch to orbit

Astra launched its LV0009 Rocket 3 from Kodiak, Alaska, with three payloads from launch services company Spaceflight Inc. While there seemed to be some hiccup during deployment, Astra announced that all payloads are communicating with its customers.

After a one-day delay due to unfavorable weather, Astra launched its seventh Rocket 3 vehicle from its site at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska. The three payloads on board were S4 CROSSOVER, OreSat0, then a third undisclosed payload. These payload’s customers contracted the launch through Spaceflight Inc., which purchased the cargo space on the flight.

On March 15, Astra lifted off towards the end of its short launch window and successfully delivered the payloads to a sun-synchronous orbit. This was the fourth successful flight of Rocket 3’s first stage and second successful flight overall. Hopefully this means the worst is behind Astra now.

This launch followed Astra’s failed first launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station last month. Since then, the company has discovered the two issues that caused that launch to fail and implemented fixes.

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However, the launch didn’t finish without a little bit of drama, as Astra could not confirm the deployment of the payloads during its live coverage. As a result, many feared another failure looming, including the stock market, which traded Astra’s shares in large volume after the launch.

Shortly after concluding the live coverage, Astra went live once again with CEO Chris Kemp, stating the payloads are alive and have been deployed. Spaceflight Inc. later confirmed the deployments by tweeting that its customers are now on orbit.

Astra will announce the date of its next mission soon, launching on LV0010 sometime later this year. The company is working towards a goal to launch daily by 2025, something many speculate the market can support. The smallsat launcher is built to be cheap, not by being reusable but through economies of scale. The idea is Astra will have a cheap rocket that can launch whenever and wherever the customer needs. We will have to wait and see if Astra is capable of bringing this idea to reality.

Featured Image: Brady Kenniston / Astra

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