• Sat. Jul 31st, 2021

Astra’ Beyond Ecstatic’ Despite Narrowly Missing Orbit on Second Launch


Dec 23, 2020

On December 15, Astra space rocket 3.2 vehicles were launched. This was the second spacecraft to be launched by the company. According to Chris Kemp, Chief executive officer of Astra, the rocket missed orbit. This was as a result of the engine shut down after running out of fuel. Traveling at a 7.2 kilometers per second speed, the rocket stopped at 390km above sea level. This was about 0.5 kilometers away from the orbit.

Despite missing the orbit, Astra was impressed by the launch. Kemp said the hardware on the system performed flawlessly throughout the flight. “This far exceeded our team’s expectations,” he further explained. Optimizing the mixture could make the next launch a success by propelling the spacecraft until it reaches orbit.

This second rocket took off from the Pacific spaceport complex in Alaska at 1555hrs ET. The launch was not shared on a webcast. Astra gave live updates via their Twitter account. The series of updates covered the takeoff from the ground, main engine cut-off, stage2 separation, and the point of a rocket leaving the earth’s atmosphere (Karman Line).

This was the second launch in a three-series launch initiated by Astra. The first launch was terminated barely after leaving the takeoff site. The spacecraft engines shut down just a few seconds after liftoff. When the 3.2 rocket succeeded through the first stage of the launch, the team considered it an improvement from the previous launch.

The launch team is made of 5 people. During the second launch, which happened in the pandemic-hit 2020, one of the members tested positive for Covid-19. The whole team was put under quarantine, leaving the backup team to prepare for the launch. After the seclusion time elapsed, the team launched the spacecraft in what Kemp describes as a beyond ecstatic experience. Through their Twitter account, they updated the public on the progress of the launch.

The company is incredibly proud that through the ups and downs this year has brought, they could accomplish that milestone. Through their blog, Astra made it clear that moving forward; they are ready to begin delivering to customers. The successful launch has placed Astra at the forefront of companies partnering with NASA in space exploration missions. They commented that they are continually adjusting the vehicle’s design to escalate performance and reduce the fuel cost. Soon, Astra will produce a set of identical copies of the same design. In the spirit of 2020, this was a great success. With so much adversity experienced this year, this milestone deserves recognition.