Launching rockets is very difficult work, and while some companies, such as SpaceX, make it look very easy, it’s not easy at all. A company called Astra, based in California, conducted its first orbital test flight last night. The intent was to send the two-stage Rocket 3.1 into orbit from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska.
The rocket company was launching, stood 38-feet tall, and had no payload inside. Unfortunately for Astra, the launch was a failure after the rocket lost power during the first-stage burn. Astra got a successful liftoff and fly out before the first-stage failure. Astra did note via Tweet that they were able to get a good amount of nominal flight time and would be offering more information on what happened in the future.
It’s also worth noting that the failure wasn’t unexpected. This was the first test flight for the rocket, and initial flights often fail. Astra does believe it’s on track to reach orbit within three flights. The first flight was Rocket 3.1, and Astra says that the next flight, known as Rocket 3.2, is nearly complete.
Astra’s goal is to provide a cost-effective platform to push small satellites into orbit. The company aims to offer orbital insertion services to a 310-mile-high orbit for payloads weighing between 110 and 330 pounds. The company’s goal is to launch a service that has a lower operating cost and lower cost to place payloads into orbit. The company builds a cheaper rocket than the competition in a highly automated factory and uses a highly automated launch operation to bring costs down.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, noted in a tweet at Astra that it took his company for lunches to reach orbit. Musk added that Astra will “figure it out,” noting that “rockets are hard.” Astra has launched three rockets so far.