Rocket builder Astra reaches orbit for the first time

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  • Astra Space reached orbit for the first time on Saturday with rocket LV0007.
  • “This is an incredibly difficult job,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said on the company’s webcast.
  • Astra joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit in a group of US companies to reach orbit with privately funded rockets.

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Astra Space reached orbit for the first time on Saturday with its rocket LV0007, joining a small group of privately funded companies that have achieved the feat.

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The company launched the rocket, which carried a test payload for the US Space Force, from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. After landing cleanly from the ground, the rocket went through each stage of the launch and about nine minutes later reached its target orbit at an altitude of about 500 km.

“This is an incredibly difficult job,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said on the company’s webcast.

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“The team has worked so hard on this for so many years and … iteration after repetition, failure after failure sees success. Everyone is incredibly passionate,” Kemp said.

Astra joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit in a group of US companies to reach orbit with privately funded rockets.

The company’s rocket is 43 feet tall and fits into the small rocket segment of the launch market. Astra eventually aims to launch several of its smaller rockets, aiming to launch one rocket a day by 2025 and reduce its $2.5 million price point even further.

While Astra first reached space in December 2020, the company had not previously made it into orbit. Its last attempt in August dramatically slid off the edge of the pad and ultimately failed to reach orbit.

Astra went public earlier this year after completing a SPAC merger, raising funds for the company to build its production line of small rockets, expand its facilities in Alameda, California, and develop its spacecraft and spaceport business lines. raised funds for

“It’s incredibly difficult to keep doing this – we have rocket serial numbers 8, 9, 10 in production, so we’re just getting started,” Kemp said on the webcast.

Astra partnered with NASA Spaceflight — a space industry materials organization not affiliated with the US agency — to webcast Saturday’s launch.

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