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Astra’s Rocket 3.3 Reaches Orbit

By | November 22, 2021

Photo Credit: Astra / John Kraus

California-based rocket startup Astra Space became the latest private launch company to reach orbit this weekend, after it successfully launched its Rocket 3.3 vehicle from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The launch took place shortly after 1 a.m. Eastern U.S. time on Saturday.

The mission, dubbed ‘LV0007,’ was the first launch since Astra misfired a test mission in August. This time, Astra’s launch went as planned, carrying a STP-27AD2 payload for the U.S. Space Force’s Defense Innovation Unit. The successful mission comes within a year since it successfully reached space with its Rocket 3.2 test launch.

“Astra just reached orbit! 7.61km/sec at our targeted 86.0 degree inclination at an altitude of 500km,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp tweeted shortly after launch. “The team worked hard for this. We’re just getting started, folks!”

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk congratulated Astra on its successful launch in a tweet to the company. “Congrats! Orbit is not easy,” said Musk.

Astra achieved another first this past July when it became the first launch company to be publicly traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market after its special purpose acquisition (SPAC) merger with Holicity Inc. was approved. Astra raised approximately $500 million in cash proceeds from the transaction at a $2.1 billion valuation. The SPAC deal was first announced in February. Astra’s stock value jumped 38.4% higher in premarket trading following the news of the successful mission.

Astra CEO Chris Kemp will be speaking on the small satellite launch services panel at SATELLITE 2022 in March.