The LV0007 rocket launches during the company’s first successful orbital launch from Kodiak, Alaska on November 20, 2021.
Astra / NASA
Astra Space entered orbit for the first time on Saturday with its LV0007 rocket, joining a small group of private companies that have achieved this feat.
The company launched a test-load rocket for the US Space Force from the Pacific launch site in Kodiak, Alaska. Having completely lifted off the ground, the rocket went through all the launch stages and after about nine minutes reached its target orbit at an altitude of about 500 kilometers.
“This is an incredibly difficult task,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said in an online broadcast of the company.
“The team has worked so hard on this over the years and … seeing iteration after iteration, failure after failure, leading to success; everyone is just incredibly passionate, ”Kemp added.
Astra joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit in a group of American companies that reached orbit with a privately funded rocket.
The company’s rocket is 43 feet tall and fits into the small rocket segment in the launch market. Astra’s goal is to ultimately launch as many of its small rockets as possible, aiming to launch one rocket per day by 2025 and further lower its $ 2.5 million price tag.
Although Astra first reached space in December 2020, the company has not previously entered orbit. Its last attempt in August slid abruptly off the pad and ultimately failed to reach orbit.
Astra went public earlier this year following the completion of its merger with SPAC, when the company raised funds to ramp up production of its small rockets, expand production facilities in Alameda, California, and develop its spacecraft and spaceport businesses.
“It’s incredibly difficult to keep doing this — we have serial numbers 8, 9, 10 in production, so we’re just getting started,” Kemp said in an online broadcast.
Astra VP of Operations Bryson Gentile (left) and CEO Chris Kemp remove the shroud from half of the rocket fairing.
Michael Schitz | CNBC
Astra has teamed up with NASASpaceflight, an information support organization for the space industry that is not affiliated with the US agency, to webcast Saturday’s launch.