Astra (aerospace)


Founded2016 Edit this on Wikidata
Key people
Chris Kemp (CEO)
Adam London (CTO)[1]

Astra is a launch vehicle company based in Alameda, California. Astra was incorporated in October 2016 by Chris Kemp and Adam London.[2][3]

Two suborbital test flights were conducted in 2018 from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA): one on 20 July 2018 (Rocket 1.0), and one on 29 November 2018 (Rocket 2.0). Both were believed to be launch failures. However, Astra stated that both were successful and the second one was "shorter than planned".[4][3] Astra spent 2019 designing and building Rocket 3.0 integrating propulsion systems, avionics, and other pressurization/plumbing components into a high-performance electric pump-fed orbital launch vehicle.

From 2018 to 2020, Astra was a contender in the DARPA Launch Challenge; first, as one of three teams, although at this point Astra kept its involvement secret and was only referred to as "stealth startup" by the Challenge organizers, then as the other two teams dropped out, as the only team left in the competition. The competition involved launching two small satellite payloads into orbit from two different launch sites in the U.S. with very little time between launches. Astra attempted to perform a launch for the Challenge late February – early March 2020 from PSCA, but had to scrub the launch attempts and in the end, did not launch a rocket for the Challenge. With the competition's only remaining team (Astra) being unable to launch a rocket within the set time frame, DARPA announced the DARPA Launch Challenge closed on 2 March 2020 with no winner. The prize of US$12 million went unclaimed.[4]

In June 2020, the Department of Defense announced that it planned to award Astra (and five other companies) two commercial rideshare satellite launch contracts using funding provided through the CARES Act.[5]

On September 11, 2020, Astra attempted another orbital rocket launch, this time with their Rocket 3.1.[6] The rocket cleared the launchpad before tumbling and falling back to Earth, exploding on impact.[7]


launch attempt

The startup company Astra has manufactured rockets for both commercial and military customers. As of 2020, Astra is attempting to launch a rocket into orbit, and none of them are successful. These rockets are labelled "Rocket 3".

The first two rockets, Rocket 1.0 and Rocket 2.0 were used for a commercial customer called Alaska Aerospace.[8][9] Although their only launches were reported to be failures,[10][11] Astra later reported they were successful.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Team | Astra". Astra. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  2. ^ "DARPA Launch Challenge". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Welcome | Astra". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Atkinson, Ian (2 March 2020). "Astra scrubs DARPA launch challenge attempt". NASASpaceFlight. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  5. ^ Clark, Stephen (19 June 2020). "U.S. military to award smallsat launch contracts using COVID-19 relief funds". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  6. ^ September 2020, Mike Wall 12. "Astra's 1st orbital test launch fails during first-stage engine burn". Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  7. ^ Video of Rocket 3.1 Launch Attempt, Captured by Bystander in Kodiak, Alaska, retrieved 16 September 2020
  8. ^ Alaska Aerospace. "2018 AAC Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  9. ^ Alaska Aerospace. "PSCA Mission History" (PDF).
  10. ^ Foust, Jeff (27 July 2018). "Alaska launch shrouded in secrecy". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  11. ^ Foust, Jeff (6 December 2018). "Astra Space suborbital launch fails". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Astra scrubs DARPA launch challenge attempt". 2 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.

External links