Astra’s first Florida launch lifts off but fails to deliver payload to orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida. – After some friction, Astra was able to launch a rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on its first launch in Florida; however, the rocket was unable to deliver its payload to orbit.

The launch window opened at 3 p.m. Thursday for its educational nanosatellite launch mission, called the ELaNa 41 mission, which aimed to carry four small research satellites into low Earth orbit, but something went wrong during the separation of the second stage.

The second stage seemed to spiral out of control and the video stream cut off abruptly.

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“We encountered an issue in today’s flight. I am deeply sorry that we were unable to deliver our customers’ payloads. I am with the team reviewing the data, and we will provide further information. information ASAP,” Astra Founder and CEO Chris Kemp said in a Twitter post.

“Unfortunately, we have heard that an issue was encountered during the flight which prevented delivery of our customers’ payloads to orbit today,” the Astra employee said commenting on the launch. “We are deeply sorry to our customers, NASA, University of Alabama, University of New Mexico, and University of California, Berkley. More information will be provided as we complete data review.

The satellites to be deployed were developed by students at the University of Alabama, New Mexico State and the University of California, Berkeley, the fourth at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The launch from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was pushed back to Monday due to inclement weather. Monday’s launch was delayed and halted before eventually being scrapped during the three-hour launch window due to technical issues, according to space officials.

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So far, Astra has only launched its Rocket 3.3 — an expendable two-stage rocket designed to fit in a standard shipping container — from Alaska, according to the company.

The rocket’s first stage is just 43 feet tall when vertical and 52 inches, or just over four feet, in diameter. For comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is nearly 230 feet tall when vertical and about 12 feet in diameter.

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