Wed, 08 Dec 2021

KODIAK ISLAND, Alaska: California rocket start-up Astra successfully sent a payload into orbit atop its 43 foot rocket on November 20.

Launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska's Kodiak Island, the rocket was under contract for the U.S. military.

The Astra rocket's upper stage slipped into orbit some 310 miles above Earth just nine minutes after liftoff.

Astra, which was founded in 2016, seeks to take a major slice of the small-satellite launch market with its line of cost-effective rockets, which are designed to be highly responsive and flexible.

Astra's entire launch system can be transported in just a few standard shipping containers.

The company's current customers already include high-profile names, such as San Francisco-based Planet, which operates the world's largest fleet of Earth-observing satellites.

NASA also selected Astra to launch its mission to study hurricanes using six tiny satellites.

Astra will launch the NASA satellites over three stages in the first half of 2022.

The company's four orbital attempts to date have occurred from the Pacific Spaceport Complex, but it aims to launch from a variety of locations around the world.

Test missions for the U.S. military carrying dummy payloads not intended to be deployed were the two most recent flights by the company, which seeks to deliver daily launches by 2025.

Astra is also developing its own satellite bus, which will enable customers to integrate their payloads into a spacecraft they do not have to build themselves.

It also recently filed an application with the US Federal Communications Commission to assemble a constellation of 13,600 internet-beaming satellites.

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