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Astra to Supply Engines for Apex Spacecraft 

By Rachel Jewett | April 27, 2023

      Astra Spacecraft Engines baselined on Apex Satellite Buses. Photo: Astra

      Astra Space will supply engines for spacecraft to startup spacecraft manufacturer Apex, the company announced Thursday. Astra has a deal to provide five spacecraft propulsion kits for Apex’s satellite platform, and expects to begin deliveries this year. 

      Apex recently came out of stealth mode with $7.5 million in funding. The company’s CTO is Max Benassi, who previously scaled aerospace manufacturing at SpaceX and was previously the director of engineering at Astra.

      The engines will support Apex’s electric propulsion package for its 100 kg bus model, Aries. 

      “The Astra Spacecraft Engine has the flight heritage and the performance we need to deliver our satellite platforms to customers on schedule,” Benassi commented. “As Apex scales production, we look forward to continuing to work with suppliers like Astra who can meet our production ramp rates.”

      The Astra Spacecraft Propulsion Kit disaggregates the four subsystems of Astra’s engine module — the thruster, power processing unit, feed system, tank. This lets satellite builders use components of the system to customize for their own missions, the company said. 

      Astra has had a string of announcements lately, after suspending launches last year to move to the next version of its launch system. The company faces the possibility of being delisted from Nasdaq over its share price, but recently received an extension to regain compliance.  

      Astra recently announced a deal to use the vacuum variant of Ursa Major’s Hadley combustion engine fueled by liquid kerosene for the upper stage of its upcoming Rocket 4. The company also recently received a launch task order for Rocket 4 from the U.S. Space Force’s Orbital Services Program (OSP)-4 contract.