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Astra Rocket 3.1’s Orbital Launch Failed With a First-stage Engine Burn

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Astra’s Rocket 3.1 was launched into the sky above Alaska’s Pacific Spaceport Complex during the company’s first orbital launch attempt on the 11th of September, 2020. It ended during the first-stage engine burn.

The flight ended during the first-stage engine burn and Astra’s first orbital mission got off the ground, and sooner it got down again. The spaceflight startup launched its first orbital test flight by sending its two-stage Rocket 3.1 skyward from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska at 11:20 p.m. EDT (7:20 p.m. local Alaska time and 0320 GMT on Sept. 12).

The booster is 38-foot-tall (12 meters) which has no payloads and could not finally make it through. Astra tweeted from their official account that “Successful lift off and fly out, but the flight ended during the first-stage burn. It does look like we got a good amount of nominal flight time. More updates to come!”

The debut flights rarely go successful and in the prelaunch mission, the company aimed to achieve a nominal first-stage burn, which would keep Astra on track to reach orbit within three flights. It will definitely sail off better in the long run.

Astra also tweeted that

We are excited to have made a ton of progress on our first of three attempts on our path to orbit! We are incredibly proud of our team; we will review the data, make changes and launch Rocket 3.2, which is nearly complete,

Astra plans to provide cheap alternatives for smaller space travels and currently, the company delivers a 310-mile-high (500 kilometers) orbit for payloads weighing between 110 lbs. and 330 lbs. (50 to 150 kilograms).

Astra CEO Chris Kemp said, “What we’re trying to do is build a service that has a lower cost to operate, and a lower cost to provide the launch service,” which might involve a much cheaper rocket, a highly automated factory, a highly automated launch operation

In February or March, Astra had decided its first orbital launch ($12 million DARPA -Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Launch Challenge. However, because of the bad weather and technical issues with Rocket 3.0, the booster failed from meeting the competition’s narrow launch window.

The Rocket was damaged in March during preparations for another launch attempt (not affiliated with the DARPA Launch Challenge). So the Rocket 3.1 was their target that failed as well. However, we hope that Astra shall make a comeback sooner with their more refined launches overcoming the technical issues.


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