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U.S. Company Astra Fails To Reach Orbit In First Rocket Launch Test

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U.S. Company Astra Fails To Reach Orbit In First Rocket Launch Test

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On September 12th, the Astra Rocket 3.1 failed to reach orbit and crashed in the Alaskan wilderness.

This was a planned test, and Astra didn’t specifically expect to reach orbit, it should be reminded that it took Elon Musk’s SpaceX four tries to reach orbit.

 

The company even got some encouraging words from Musk himself.

“As we’ve always said, we expect it to take three flights to make it to orbit. Tonight, we saw a beautiful launch! Preliminary data review indicates the rocket performed very well. Early in the flight, our guidance system appears to have introduced some slight oscillation into the flight, causing the vehicle to drift from its planned trajectory leading to a commanded shutdown of the engines by the flight safety system. We didn’t meet all of our objectives, but we did gain valuable experience, plus even more valuable flight data. This launch sets us well on our way to reaching orbit within two additional flights, so we’re happy with the result.”

The Astra team said it was incredibly proud of its results, and expects that the 3rd attempt is to be successful, with this being the first.

“We are incredibly proud of what the team accomplished today. This was our first orbital launch attempt, and the first flight of a rocket designed from the ground-up for low cost mass production and highly-automated launch operations. The entire launch system was deployed by six people in less than a week – completely unprecedented.

Astra’s strategy is to learn fast through iterative development. Although we’re pleased with today’s outcome, we still have more work to do to reach orbit. Once we reach orbit, we will relentlessly continue to improve the economics of the system as we deliver our customers’ payloads.”

It is unclear why the launch attempt seemed rushed, it could potentially be due to the wildfires in the Western United States and that their spread could somehow impede potential launches.

According to Bloomberg, Astra is one of a handful of companies vying to produce cheap, reusable rockets that can ferry satellites into space almost every day.

The current market leader is New Zealand’s Rocket Lab, which charges about $7.5 million per flight and has been the only company to conduct successful commercial flights so far.

Astra is aiming to undercut Rocket Lab by creating a reusable rocket that would cost $1 million per launch, or less.

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