Astra Space officials said they are prepared to start commercial operations of its tiny launch vehicle and ramp up production after attaining orbit for the very first time, while also prepping to test a new rocket next year. On a flight for the United States Space Force, Astra’s Rocket 3.3 achieved orbit on November 20. The launch, which took place from Kodiak Island, Alaska, put a small cargo into orbit for the Space Force, that remained connected to the upper stage as well as measured environmental conditions as the rocket rose.
Astra executives told reporters on November 22 that they were still examining data from the flight, which was the company’s fourth and first successful attempt to reach orbit, but that they were delighted with the rocket’s performance. “The launch and flight were both very routine, including stage separation,” said Astra executive vice president as well as chief engineer Benjamin Lyon.
The upper stage as well as its linked cargo were delivered into their anticipated 500-kms orbit at the inclination of about 86 degrees, according to the corporation. The phase is in the orbit between 438 to 507 kilometers altitude, with an inclination of about 86.01 degrees, according to data from the US Space Force.
The deployment of this rocket, dubbed LV0007, demonstrated improvements made following the August failure of LV0006. After the propellant leaked from the disconnected lines as well as ignited in the vehicle’s base, one of the 5 first stage engines closed down after a second of liftoff, causing the launch to fail.
It also revealed Astra’s ability to work in challenging environments, such as freezing temperatures. “We learned a lot about the entire launch mechanism that supports it, in addition to the vehicle,” he said. According to Chris Kemp, Astra’s chief executive, the water main froze solid, measuring 20-centimeter at the pad. He explained, “We had never worked in these frigid temps before.”
LV0008, which is the next Rocket 3.3 vehicle approaching completion at Astra’s headquarters in Alameda, California, appears to require minimal alterations based on an initial examination of the data. LV0008 could arrive later this year, according to the business, according to an earnings report earlier this month, though Kemp did not provide a deployment date in the conference.
“All the details concerning the dates as well as the range are being worked out,” he said. “You won’t have to wait long for the next flight.” The payload for the very next flight has yet to be revealed, but Kemp stated that Rocket 3.3 was ready to enter commercial service. He stated, “We’re out of the flight test phase.” “With commercial payloads for our clients in low Earth orbit, we’ll resume.” He also mentioned that Rocket 4, which is a larger variant of the vehicle, will be tested next year, while the Rocket 3 commercial launches will continue.