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Astra Rocket 3.3 Comes to Life Ahead Satellite Launch

Launch vehicle startup Astra showed us its two-stage rocket roaring to life at Cape Canaveral. The successful static fire test hints that Astra is on track with preparations for the upcoming NASA's ELaNa 41 mission.
Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3 6 photos
Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3Astra completes static fire test for its Rocket 3.3
The company has made tremendous progress over the last few years. Founded in 2016, Astra seeks to use its rockets to provide operators flexible and cost-effective rides to space. The company left our skies for the first time in December 2020, during a test flight of its vertically-launched two-stage vehicle, Rocket 3.2.

Then last year in November, Astra reached orbit with its Rocket 3.3, an improved version of its launch vehicle. It took off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska's Kodiak Island, successfully carrying a payload for the U.S. Space Force.

Now, the company is getting ready for its first operational satellite launch, which will be conducted from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The flight is part of NASA's Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) program, which awarded Astra a $3.9 million contract back in 2020 to launch small satellites into space.

The company is targeting January 2022 for liftoff. A video of the Rocket 3.3 coming to life at Cape Canaveral was recently posted on Twitter by Astra's founder Chris Kemp. He also mentioned that the date and time for the mission will be announced once the company receives its launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Although there's not a fixed launch date still set, the test shows that preparations are in full swing. Once everything gets settled, the rocket is expected to carry four small research satellites, known as CubeSats.

The CubeSats will be flying on the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) mission and will get launched from atop the rocket's upper stage into Earth's orbit. Once deployed, they will demonstrate various new technologies meant to speed up space operations.



 
 
 
 
 

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