Astra Announces New Launch Date for NASA’s ELaNa 41 Mission

Astra 3.3 Rocket
Astra’s Rocket 3.3 is prepared for launch at Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket will carry four small spacecraft – called CubeSats – that comprise NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) payload. Liftoff now is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2022. The mission will mark the first operational satellite launch by Astra Space Inc. and the first launch under the NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) contract. Managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, VCLS was developed to provide increased access to space for developers of small satellites. Photo credit: John Kraus/Astra

Editor’s Note: This post was updated to reflect a new launch date of Monday, Feb. 7.

Astra Space Inc. announced that its launch of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) mission has been delayed because an unnamed range asset went out of service. Its Rocket 3.3 was scheduled to launch at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 5  from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The next launch attempt is scheduled for Feb. 7, with the three-hour launch window opening at 1 p.m.

Astra, of in Alameda, California, provides launch services to NASA under a Venture Class Launch Services contract, managed by the agency’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s venture class contracts seek to encourage development of a new class of small launch vehicles and launch providers.

The launch is scheduled to carry four CubeSats, or small satellites, to orbit. CubeSats are a cornerstone in the development of cutting-edge technologies such as laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications, and autonomous movement. The CubeSats on the ELaNa 41 mission were designed and built by three universities and one NASA center:

  • BAMA-1– University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • INCA– New Mexico State University, Las Cruces
  • QubeSat– University of California, Berkeley
  • R5-S1 – NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston

CubeSats can tolerate a higher level of risk associated with launching on new venture class vehicles. Venture class missions can help NASA learn more about the risks of using new launch vehicles as well as how to mitigate other risks as the agency continues expanding access to space for future small spacecraft missions.

Follow this blog for NASA updates, and Astra will provide updated information via Twitter at @Astra.