Launching rockets is very difficult, and while some companies like SpaceX make it look very easy, it’s not easy at all. A company called Astra, based in California, conducted its first orbital test flight last night. The two-stage rocket 3.1 was to be launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska.
The missile company launched was 38 feet tall and had no payload inside. Unfortunately for Astra, the launch failed after the rocket lost power during combustion in the first stage. Astra got off to a successful start and flew out before the first stage failed. Astra noted via tweet that they were able to get a good nominal flight time and provide more information on what happened in the future.
Astra’s goal is to provide a low-cost platform to put small satellites into orbit. The company is committed to providing orbital insertion services for a 310 mile high orbit for payloads weighing between 110 and 330 pounds. The company’s goal is to launch a service that has lower operating costs and lower costs for bringing payloads into orbit. The company builds a cheaper missile than the competition in a highly automated factory and uses a highly automated launch process to reduce costs.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted in a tweet on Astra that his company was needed for lunch to make it to orbit. Musk added that Astra “will find out” noting that “missiles are tough”. Astra has fired three missiles so far.