Alameda-based rocket launch startup Astra finally got the chance to launch its first orbital test mission from its Alaska-based facility on Saturday, after the attempt had been delayed multiple times due to weather and other issues.
The 12-metre launcher failed during the first-stage engine burn and came crashing down after 17 seconds in the air.
"Over the next several weeks, we'll be taking a close look at the flight data to determine how to make the next flight more successful", said Astra's representatives. "More updates to come!"
Astra was founded in 2016 with the goal of developing smaller and more efficient rockets to deliver telecommunication satellites to orbit.
Failure was no shock; Debut flights can rarely swim and Astra has made it clear that it does not expect perfection by it. It didn't happen, but the company said it gained valuable insight into the second attempt. To some extent, it's already successful - Rocket 3.1 took off with a launch system deployed by just six people in under a week.
"Obviously, it didn't do everything we wanted it to, but it launched, and we got a ton of great data", he said. The company's website is now online Provides delivery services To an orbit of 310 miles (500 kilometers) for payloads weighing between 110 pounds. (50 to 150 kilograms).
Another California-based company, Rocket Laboratory, Currently has a congestion on this side of the emerging smallsat publishing market, but Astra believes it can create a niche for itself by offering a cheaper alternative.
Astra CEO Chris Camp told reporters on July 30, "What we're trying to do is build a service that has a low cost to operate, and a low cost to provide an initial service". Cheaper rocket, more automated factory, more automatic launching functionality and, in fact, a real focus on performance and eliminating costs from every aspect of service so that we can achieve size and ultimately reduce costs through sizes and production economies.
(SpaceX) Falcon 9 rockets And other large boosters are also rapidly elevating smaller spacecraft, but generally as "rideshares" on payback missions whose main goal is to orbit one or more large satellites.
Astra initially planned to launch its first orbital mission in February or March of this year, as part of the $ 12 million DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) launch challenge.
The 3.0 missile was damaged in late March, during preparations for another launch attempt that did not follow the DARPA Launch Challenge.
The footage shared on Eric Van Dongen's Facebook page revealed the rocket successfully lifting off, but then turning over up in the sky and falling down, with a large explosion erupting as the vehicle struck the ground. Bad weather and technical issues propelled Rocket 3.1's flight multiple times, even tonight.
Tonight's launch was the third overall for Astra, which attempted submarine flights in 2018 with two previous rocket repetitions.