The Rocket 3.2 will depart on December 15, 2020 from Kodiak, Alaska.
John Kraus / Astra
The publicly traded rocket builder Astra will go for its first launch of the year later this month, with the goal of bringing a payload of the Pentagon into orbit.
“The Space Force is now in line to launch a demonstration launch with a window set to begin Aug. 27,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp told CNBC.
The Astra stock has risen 25% in trading Thursday from its previous high of $ 8.25 a share.
This launch is the first of two Astras under contract by the U.S. Space Force’s Space Trial Program, with the last scheduled for later this year. The launch window will last 16 days, until September 11th.
The Astra’s Rocket 3 vehicle will depart from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The payload is a small demonstration satellite for the Space Force.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Astra on this mission and believe that this will show a critical ability to launch at low cost, mobile and responsive,” Space Project Director Colonel Carlos Quinones said in a statement.
On March 15, 2021, a fire test with a first-stage Delphin rocket engine.
John Kraus / Astra
Astra shares have declined since the company closed its SPAC merger and began trading on the Nasdaq. The stock had climbed above $ 15 a share in the days following its debut, but has slipped in recent weeks to trade near $ 8 a share.
Asked about the stock price of his company, Kemp said he thinks “both shareholders and customers will appreciate that we are on schedule here” with the upcoming launch of Astra, which the company said earlier that would happen in the summer.
“We appreciate shareholders’ patience with us as we build and launch races so we can start recognizing revenues, ”Kemp said.
Based in Alameda, California – on the shores of San Francisco Bay – Astra is preparing preparations for the next missile at its headquarters, with Kemp saying he expects to ship the launch vehicle to Alaska. ” next week or two. ” Kemp noted that Astra’s launch team, which consists of a few people, will “need a week or two in Alaska to get everything set up.”
Astra remains “on track” to make three launches throughout this year, before starting to increase production and operations to begin launching at a monthly rate by the end of the year, Kemp said.
He also noted that Astra has “more than 50 launches in our portfolio,” with more information expected when the company reports its second-quarter results on August 12th.
Updates to the race
Astra VP of Bryson Gentile manufacturing, left, and CEO Chris Kemp took protective cover from a half-race car.
Michael Sheetz | CNBC
Astra will also be testing updates to its Rocket 3 system in this upcoming release. The company’s last launch in December hit space, but the rocket came slowly out of orbit.
“This really allows our team to check out numerous updates to our missile and our launch system,” Kemp said.
While the previous launch “exceeded our expectations,” it also taught Astra about several ways to improve its missile. One was that the vehicle had fuel remaining in both the upper and lower stages of the propulsion system, so Astra improved the propellant management system. The company has also lengthened the radius a bit, adding five feet overall, and simplified the upper-stage avionics to use a single motherboard.
“It greatly enhances the avionics on the first stage so we have a lot more mass available for payload,” Kemp said.
“If this flight works, we’ll be happy and if it doesn’t work, we’ll learn a lot,” Kemp adds.