Rockets by Astra


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.[1][2] Although their only launches were reported to be failures,[3][4] Astra later reported they were successful.[5]

Rocket 3

Rocket 3
Astra Rocket 3.0 first mission 10.jpg
Rocket 3.0 being prepared to launch.
FunctionOrbital launch vehicle
Country of originUnited States
Height11.6 m (38 ft)
Payload to SSO
Altitude500 km (310 mi)
Mass25–150 kg (55–331 lb)
Associated rockets
Launch history
Launch sitesPSCA
Total launches1
Other outcome(s)1
First stage
Engines5 Delphin
Second stage
Engines1 Aether
Thrust665 lbf vacuum
PropellantLOX / RP-1

The Rocket 3 is a family of 11.6-meter (38 ft) launch vehicles that have a payload capacity of 25–150 kg (55–331 lb) to a 500 km (310 mi) sun-synchronous orbit.[7] It consists of two stages. The first stage has 5 engines called "Delphin".[8]

Rocket 3.0

The first Rocket 3, "1 of 3" or "Rocket 3.0", completed a static fire test at Castle Airport, California. It was planned to launch from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) with attempted launches in late February and early March of 2020, with the last launch attempt on 2 March 2020, as part of the DARPA Launch Challenge.[9] Three CubeSats for the U.S. Department of Defense and the University of South Florida, along with a space-based beacon designed to aid in space traffic management, were slated to ride into orbit on "1 of 3". On 2 March 2020, DARPA and Astra officials said the Prometheus CubeSat, the University of South Florida's two Articulated Reconnaissance and Communications Expedition (ARCE) nanosatellites, and the space-based radio beacon payload were to be removed from the rocket after the end of the Launch Challenge. Astra had failed to launch within the DARPA Launch Challenge's launch window; launch preparations continued regardless for the test flight.[8][10]

On 23 March 2020, "1 of 3" was destroyed by fire during launch preparations. The incident at the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island occurred while Astra was detanking fuel during a pre-launch countdown dress rehearsal.[11] A valve on Rocket 3.0 remained open.[11] This incident was first reported by KMXT, a local public radio station.[12] Kemp confirmed no payloads were on-board Astra's rocket at the time of the incident.[13]

Rocket 3.1

Rocket 3.1 Orbital Launch Attempt Clearing the mountain range (50624962506).jpg

A second launch attempt was planned for no earlier than 31 August 2020 at 02:00 UTC using the second Rocket 3 vehicle, Rocket 3.1 (formerly "2 of 3"), but was delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions.[14][11] The next launch window began on 11 September 2020. The launch occurred on 12 September 2020 at 03:19 UTC. The launch failed during first stage flight, five engines, when Rocket 3.1 experienced an anomaly and fell back to Earth shortly after,[15] and exploded on impact in a part of the spaceport that was cleared of personnel before launch.[16] However, many public viewers captured footage of the launch and failure with the rocket slamming into the ground creating an explosion and cloud. Astra officials said on 12 September 2020, a software fix will likely resolve a guidance system problem that caused the first orbital-class rocket to begin drifting off course soon after liftoff, prompting a range safety officer to terminate the mission.[16] The result was not unexpected after Astra officials set modest goals for the test flight. The company said it planned a series of three test launches before it expects to reach orbit with its commercial rocket.[16] Astra confirmed that Rocket 3.2, the third Rocket 3, was almost complete and would take flight after data review and making necessary changes.[17]

Launch history

  •   Failure
  •   Success
  •   Planned
Flight Date / time (UTC) Rocket Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit Customer Outcome
1 20 July 2018 [3] 1.0 PSCA, Pad 2 [18] Un­known Un­known Suborbital Un­known Success [5]
P120 mission for a commercial customer.[2] The FAA reported an unknown mishap occurred during the launch;[3] Astra later noted the launch was successful.[5]
2 29 November 2018 [4] 2.0 PSCA, Pad 2 [19] Un­known Un­known Suborbital Un­known Success [5]
Launch for a commercial customer.[20] Flight ended earlier than planned, likely due to engine failure.[4][5] Rather than including an active second stage, this launch carried an "upper stage mass simulator".[4]
N/A 23 March 2020 3.0 PSCA, Pad 3B [21] LEO Precluded
"1 of 3". Initially intended to be part of the DARPA Launch Challenge, but failed to launch within the challenge's launch window due to an issue with a sensor for the guidance, navigation, and control systems.[22][23] A fire occurred prior to launch on 23 March 2020, destroying the rocket.[24]
3 12 September 2020
03:19 UTC [25]
3.1 PSCA, Pad 3B None [26] N/A LEO None Failure
Formerly "2 of 3". Second attempt to launch a Rocket 3 for the first time. Initially intended to be the second of two launches for the DARPA Launch Challenge.[11][6] 30 seconds after lift off engines were shutdown by the range safety officer.[27]
4 December 2020 [16][28][29] 3.2[11] PSCA, Pad 3B TBA LEO TBA Planned
Formerly "3 of 3".
5 March 2021 3.3 [11] PSCA, Pad 3B TBA LEO TBA Planned


  1. ^ Alaska Aerospace. "2018 AAC Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b Alaska Aerospace. "PSCA Mission History" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b c Foust, Jeff (27 July 2018). "Alaska launch shrouded in secrecy". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Foust, Jeff (6 December 2018). "Astra Space suborbital launch fails". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Astra scrubs DARPA launch challenge attempt". 2 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b Gray, Tyler (2 August 2020). "Astra prepares to launch maiden orbital test flight". Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Services | Astra". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b Atkinson, Ian (2 March 2020). "Astra scrubs DARPA launch challenge attempt". NASASpaceFlight. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  9. ^ Wall, Mike (29 February 2020). "Foul weather delays Astra's 1st DARPA Launch Challenge liftoff in Alaska". Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  10. ^ Foust, Jeff (2 March 2020). "DARPA Launch Challenge ends without winner". SpaceNews. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Sheetz, Michael (16 June 2020). "Rocket startup Astra trying for an orbital launch again in July, renewing fundraising efforts". CNBC. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  12. ^ George, Kavitha (23 March 2020). "BREAKING: "Anomaly" at Pacific Spaceport Complex launch rehearsal, no injuries as a result". KMXT 100.1 FM. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  13. ^ Clark, Stephen (24 March 2020). "Astra suffers "anomaly" during pre-launch test in Alaska". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Astra ships next small satellite launcher to Alaska spaceport". Spaceflight Now. 23 July 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  15. ^ Gray, Tyler (10 September 2020). "Astra launches on first orbital test; fails in first stage flight". Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d "Software fix could position Astra for another launch attempt by end of year". Spaceflight Now. 14 September 2020. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Astra Status". Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Commercial Space Transportation License No LLS 18-112" (PDF). FAA. Retrieved 3 April 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. ^ "Commercial Space Transportation License; License Number LLS 18-144" (PDF). FAA. Retrieved 17 October 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ Alaska Aerospace. "2018 AAC Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  21. ^ Twitter-News from Todd Master, 1. März 2020.
  22. ^ Clark, Stephen (21 March 2020). "Astra readies for possible launch attempt next week". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  23. ^ Foust, Jeff (2 March 2020). "DARPA Launch Challenge ends without winner". SpaceNews. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  24. ^ Sheetz, Michael (5 April 2020). "Rocket startup Astra trims staff to survive pandemic until next year". CNBC. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. 11 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  26. ^ Clark, Stephen (1 August 2020). "Astra readies small satellite launcher for test flight from Alaska". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  27. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Software fix could position Astra for another launch attempt by end of year – Spaceflight Now". Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Astra | Reserve A Small Satellite Launch". Astra. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  29. ^ Krebs, Gunter (16 April 2020). "Astra Rocket". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 12 June 2020.