Less than a second after takeoff, one of the five main engines failed, causing the rocket to go sideways off the launch pad before regaining its trajectory. The range issued an all-engine shutdown command after roughly two minutes and thirty seconds after takeoff, thereby terminating the mission. Even though it took off with one engine less, the vehicle was capable of reaching an altitude of about 31 miles (50 kilometers).
"We regret that we were unable to accomplish all mission objectives for the U.S. Space Force; however, we captured a tremendous amount of data from this test flight," said Chris Kemp, Founder and CEO of Astra. "We will incorporate learnings from this test into future launch vehicles, including LV0007, which is currently in production."
Kemp took to Twitter and commented that Astra is "not giving up." Compared to the company's previous rocket versions, Rocket 3.3 is a bigger vehicle with an improved ground segment. The recent flight, although it was unsuccessful, it did test the new upgrades implemented into the rocket. Astra still has time to improve until its future launch, and there's no rush either as the mission has a launch window open until September 11th.
The company's final goal is to use its rockets to reach orbit daily in order to speed up the satellite deployment process. Astra intends to launch a few satellites nearly every day to help establish a constellation in less than five years.
Reviewing flight data and video, two things are very clear - 1) An engine shut down right after launch 2) Everything that happened next made me incredibly proud of our team. Space may be hard, but like this rocket, we are not giving up. #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/2g3n812EaW— Chris Kemp (@Kemp) August 29, 2021