Astra Launches its Rocket 3.2 into Space, Confirms First Satellite Mission for Early 2021

Astra Rocket 3.2 launch from Kodiak - Courtesy

Astra, the Bay Area rocket startup launched a second orbital test flight on Tuesday, and celebrated making it into space.

The test flight delivered a the two-stage Rocket 3.2 into space from Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island in Alaska just before 1 p.m. PST.

“December 15th, 2020 was a historic day for Astra and America, as we joined a small, elite group of privately funded companies that have made it to space,” founders CEO Chris Kemp and CTO Adam London wrote on the company blog. “We couldn’t be more proud that our team accomplished this milestone in the face of so much adversity this year. Only three months after our last orbital launch attempt, we were back in Kodiak with the goal of a nominal first stage burn, followed by fairing separation and stage separation. We achieved all of these objectives and more!”

Astra’s Rocket 3.2 hit important markers, achieved its first-stage engine burn and separated from its upper stage.

Along Relativity Space of Long Beach and Firefly Black, Astra received a NASA contract for multiple Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) to launch small satellites to space, including CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites.

Astra Space Inc. of Alameda, California receives $3.9 million, Relativity Space Inc. of Long Beach, California receives $3.0 million and Firefly Black LLC of Cedar Park, Texas receives $9.8 million.

“Our data shows that all of the rocket’s hardware and software performed exceptionally well, and that only a small adjustment to the mixture ratio of fuel and oxidizer stands between us and our first customer payload delivery in a few months,” Kemp and London wrote. “Most importantly, this means that Astra can immediately begin delivering for our customers.

“As of today, we have contracted over two dozen launches, representing over 100 spacecraft,” the co-founders wrote. “We are immediately executing our plan to ramp up rocket production and launch operations. Our next rocket is nearly complete and we’ll be identifying opportunities based on Tuesday’s data on how to further improve the vehicle performance ahead of our next launch. This rapid iteration is unique to Astra and separates us from other launch providers in the industry.”

Watch the Astra launch video here: