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Planet Taps Astra to Launch Future Missions

By Rachel Jewett | May 19, 2021

      Astra’s December 15, 2020 rocket launch. Photo: Astra

      Astra has signed a multi-launch deal with Planet. Astra did not specify how many missions the deal includes, or the value of the contract, but the companies have “plans to begin launching in the near future.” 

      This is a vote of confidence in Astra from New Space leader Planet, and it is the company’s first commercial contract. 

      “Our business requires us to be able to reach space frequently, affordably, and reliably,” said Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet. “Astra is positioned to help us rapidly put up satellites to deliver ever more relevant data to our customers.”

      In addition, Astra announced that it is increasing its launch capabilities to launch payloads up to 500 kg to a 500 km, mid-inclination orbit, a service targeted to megaconstellations. This is an increase from previous capability of 50 kg to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), and Astra did not specify how it is able to increase its capability. 

      Astra is in the midst of a deal to go public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with Holicity Inc., which will value the company at approximately $2.1 billion. The smallsat launcher recently reached orbit for the first time in December 2020, with its 3.2 rocket. Since then, Astra signed a $7.95 million launch contract with NASA to launch a constellation of six cubesats for storm research over three launches.

      Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the rocket version that was used in Astra’s successful launch.