We have liftoff! Astra’s first operational satellite mission launched on the company’s Rocket 3.3 at approximately 1:50 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The launch marked the first mission of NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) contract awarded by the agency’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), the four small satellites, or CubeSats, on board make up the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) mission. CSLI provides small satellite developers at academic institutions, NASA centers, and non-profit organizations access to a low-cost pathway to conduct research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations in space.
“Missions like these are critical for developing new launch vehicles in this growing commercial sector,” said Hamilton Fernandez, LSP mission manager. “I commend the Astra team for their dedication to supporting NASA’s mission.”
Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3 is an expendable, vertically launched two-stage liquid oxygen and kerosene rocket, designed to fit inside a standard shipping container and built to provide cost-effective access to space. The rocket consists of a first stage powered by five electric-pump-fed engines and an upper stage propelled by a single pressure-fed Aether engine.
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