The third attempt was not sexy Astra.
The California Bay Area startup attempted its third orbital test flight today (August 28), launching its two-stage launch vehicle into the sky 0006 from the Pacific Spaceport campus on Kodiak Island, Alaska. 6:35 pm EDT (2235 GMT). The Rocket About 2.5 minutes after takeoff an anomaly occurred, but the flight was grounded.
Something went wrong from the start, and the boot vehicle sank to the side instead of getting off the 0006 pad smoothly. But the rocket was recovered and soared into the Alaska sky, reaching an altitude of about 20.5 miles (33 kilometers) before closing, according to real-time data provided by Astra during the launch’s webcast.
This work was stopped around the “maximum”, the mechanical pressures on a rocket would be very high. A camera mounted on the boot vehicle 0006 showed that part of the booster was loosely broken at the time.
“Even though we have not achieved our primary objective today, our team will work hard to determine what happened here,” Carolina Grossman, Product Managing Director at Astra, said during today’s launch broadcast. “As we dig into aviation data, we are optimistic about the future and our next endeavor.”
The 43-foot-tall (13-meter) launch vehicle 0006, a member of Astra’s Rocket 3.3 series, today carried the test load for the U.S. Department of Defense’s space test program. That payload is a mass simulator, not a functional satellite, so it is not meant to be used.
Astra originally attempted to launch the mission on Friday (Aug. 27), but the vehicle’s 0006 guidance system is yet to begin. Shortly after engine ignition is called abortion. Engineers fixed the problem, which turned out to be an engine-configuration problem, and prepared the booster for Listoff a day later.
Big projects for small rockets
Founded in 2016, Astra aims to capture the bulk of the production, low-cost, ever-evolving rockets in the emerging small satellite launch market. The company’s launch system is designed to be highly mobile and responsive. For example, its rockets are transported to the launch site in standard shipping containers.
“In many ways, the engineering of a car is more than just a rocket, but they can build cars for tens of thousands of dollars,” said Adam London, co-founder and chief technology officer at Astra. Question and answer posted by the company online on Friday.
“You see no rockets today at an affordable price,” London said. “Astra is connected to learn how you can bridge that gap: how you build a lot of rockets so people can easily and quickly find a place to do big and interesting things.”
Astra launched two orbital test flights earlier today, both of which did not carry the payload. In September 2020, shortly after the launch of the company’s Rocket 3.1, it encountered a navigation problem and crashed back to Earth. In December of that year, Rocket 3.2 successfully reaches space But the fuel ran out before it reached orbital speed.
The company took some time to upgrade its next booster variant, the Rocket 3.3. Astra has addressed the fuel consumption issue and increased top-level performance, London said during a webcast of a discontinued launch effort on Friday. He added that the new variant was 5 feet (1.5 m) taller than the Rocket 3.1 and Rocket 3.2.
Based on what the company is learning from today’s anomaly investigation, additional changes may be needed to launch the 0006 heirs.
Preliminary analyzes show that one of the rocket’s five first-stage engines failed 1 second after taking off, Astra co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp said at a short post-flight conference this evening.
If all goes according to plan, Astra will make several trips to the launch site in the coming months and years. For example, today’s release is the first of two booked by the United States Space Force; The second was expected to be raised later this year, although that timeline may change slightly.
Astra has several deals: the company has signed deals for more than 50 publications, together with revenues of over $ 150 million, Kemp Told Space.com last month.
Those deals also include deals to lift Earth-viewing satellites Planet is a San Francisco-based company Next year, and the launch of NASA’s Tropics mission (abbreviated as “Time-Resolved Observations of Rain Solving Structure and Storm Intensity”. CubscotsThe Astra will launch during three voyages between January and July 2022 from the Atoll of Guwahati in the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.
In the long run, the company plans to increase its publishing system to unprecedented levels, which will change mankind’s access to space.
“Our next goal is monthly, then weekly, and finally daily space delivery,” London said in a Q&A post.
“It’s a little nuts,” he added. “But if you have one satellite in orbit, and it fails, you have to quickly put another one back in there. Or if you want to launch a galaxy of thousands of satellites, you do not want to wait six months between launches. By launching a few satellites almost every day exactly where you need them, you We can establish a galaxy in a year or two instead of years. “
Astra, which went public this summer, is also developing its own satellite bus. These spacecraft will play electric-propelled engines developed by Astra’s Apollo Fusion. Purchased earlier this year.
Written by Mike Wall “Out aur“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; explained by Carl Tate), book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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