Aamed-based rocket launch startup Astra On Saturday, he finally had the opportunity to launch his first orbital test mission from his Alaska facility after the attempt was delayed several times due to weather and other issues. The PT take-off of the test vehicle ‘Rocket 3.1’ from Astra at 8.19 p.m. went well – but the flight ended relatively shortly afterwards, during the engine fire in the first stage and long before it reached orbit.
Astra did not expect to actually reach orbit on this particular flight – it has always been said that its goal is to reach orbit within three test flights from Rocket and before that first mission it was said that the main objective was to be to have a good premiere -step fire specifically on these. Obviously, this wasn̵
The mission ended prematurely because the missile seemed to wiggle a little unwanted back and forth as it climbed, Astra said, causing the vehicle’s automated safety system to stall. This is actually good news too, because it means the steps Astra has taken to make sure safe bugs are working as planned. You can see in the video above that the missile’s engine lights simply go out during flight and some time later a ball of fire comes from the impact on the ground.
It’s worth noting that most maiden flights with all-new rockets don’t go quite as planned – including that of SpaceX, whose founder and CEO Elon Musk expressed his encouragement to the Astra team on Twitter. Peter Beck from Rocket Lab also got involved with support. Not to mention that Astra has operated in extreme conditions and only a six-person team is on-site in Alaska to deploy the launch system that was set up in less than a week due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Astra will definitely be able to extract a lot of valuable data from this launch that it can use to improve the chances of its next attempt. The company notes that it expects to review this data “in the next few weeks” as it moves on to the second flight in this series of three attempts. Rocket 3.2, the test article for this mission, is ready and waiting for this attempt.