Astra Attempts To Launch Another Rocket, 3.2, Into Orbit

11th Jan 2021
Astra 3.2 Rocket

Kodiak Island in Alaska, was the site for Astra’s rocket launch on 15th December with a second attempt to reach orbit. This recent attempt comes three months after another previous trial. At the Pacific Space Complex, Astra launched another empty craft carrying no payload. 

The strategy resembled their previous rocket launch, whereby the 3.1 spacecraft did not carry any satellites to be delivered into space. For Astra, these two attempts are a way to perfect its launching capabilities. 

Today, Astra ranks among the most innovative young space companies to offer launching services for smallsat companies. 

Previously, the 3.1 rocket launch took place on 11th September 2020 but never made it to orbit. Soon after its launch, there was flight termination as the rocket veered off course. The oscillation led to an engine shut down command, however the spacecraft never made it back to the ground. 

It broke apart when the command went through due to aerodynamic forces, falling into Alaska’s shores safely. 

Astra Attempts Rocket Launch as it Aims to Carry Payloads to Orbit

Apart from the 3.2 and 3.1 missile attempts, Astra also had the 3.0 rocket launch attempt. It took place in March 2020 and failed when there was a stuck valve when the missile attempted fueling. 

Now, the company is making more efforts to reach orbit with its new rocket even though the company grasps the magnitude of this goal. It explains why it’s choosing to reach space with three attempts since it’s only by luck that the first trial can work. 

As for Astra’s recent 3.2 rocket blastoff effort, the mission is a success so far. The spacecraft took off as the 1st engine fired well, followed by separation of the two engines as required. After that, the second engine continued to soar, making it past the Karman line. 

Still, the 3.2 never made it to orbit as expected. It should’ve shut down shortly after and signaled to be in space. The expectation was a communication from the spacecraft after payload release even though it didn’t carry any.  Payload separates from the engine at this stage and sends back a signal to the company. 

Nonetheless, Astra decided not to include any payload in the 3.2 rocket launch to save from any risk of the craft not reaching orbit.

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