December 1, 2023

Astra test-fires rocket ahead of 1st Florida launch (video)

Astra took another advance in preparing for its first-ever launch of functional satellites.The California company performed a “fixed fire” test with its Rocket 3.3 automobile at Floridas Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday (Jan. 22), briefly sparking the launchers first-stage engines while keeping it anchored to the pad.The test becomes part of the leadup to the ELaNa-41 mission, which will loft six tiny cubesats as part of NASAs Educational Launch of Nanosatellites initiative. ELaNa-41 will likely lift off quickly, however the date is not yet set; Astra is still waiting on a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, business representatives stated through Twitter on Saturday.Video: Watch Astras Rocket 3.2 launch on its 1st successful flightAstras Rocket 3.3 car carries out a fixed fire test at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Jan. 22, 2022, to prep for the launch of the ELaNa-41 objective. (Image credit: John Kraus on behalf of Astra) Astra, which was established in 2016, intends to secure a big portion of the small-satellite launch market with its line of mass-produced, cost-efficient and responsive rockets. The business has carried out 4 orbital launches to date. Astra reached orbit for the very first time on its latest objective, which took off on Nov. 20, 2021 carrying a dummy payload for the U.S. military.All four of those previous flights were test missions that introduced from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska. Astra will notch two big milestones with ELaNa-41– its first liftoff from the Lower 48 states and its very first objective with operational satellites on board.ELaNa-41s six satellites were developed by three different universities (the University of Alabama, New Mexico State University and the University of California, Berkeley) and one NASA facility (Johnson Space Center in Houston). The satellites will conduct a range of research study in orbit, from testing “drag sail” innovation for deorbiting satellites to studying space weather. You can check out all of them here. (That NASA page states that five satellites are flying on ELaNa-41, however Cal Berkeleys CURIE mission apparently consists of two cubesats, not one.) Astra is flying ELaNa-41 under a $3.9 million contract with NASAs Launch Services Program. The company will introduce another objective for the area firm this year as well, if all goes according to strategy. NASA picked Astra to release its TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) objective. TROPICS will study cyclone formation and development utilizing six cubesats, which Astra will loft this year on three launches from Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; shown by Karl Tate), a book about the look for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook..