Founded in 2016, the California-based space company, Astra reached a key stage when its LV0007 launch vehicle first reached orbit. According to company website, this is the first time a space company has managed to reach orbit within five years of its creation.
In order to create a “healthier and more connected planet”, Astra is working to improve its launch vehicle, which has failed due to many problems in the past. The company, which started in stealth mode, managed to become one of the three finalists for the Launch Challenge of the Advanced Defense Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2019. Later that year, the company built its own missile factory in California and completed the construction of its spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.
However, the success remained elusive. Although the company made it to the finals once again on the release of the DARPA launch challenge in 2020, its rocket failed to land, On the edge reported. Another launch failed in September of that year due to a problem with the missile’s guidance system. Before the end of the year, its 3.2 rocket reached space, but could not enter its orbit due to lack of fuel.
In August this year, the Astra 3.3 missile, called the LV0006, was tested for the US military managed to move aside shortly after its launch and had to be discontinued. CEO Chris Kemp said the company was not giving up on its plans and its next launch was a success.
The 0007 launch vehicle (LV0007), carrying a test payload for the US military, took off from the company’s spaceport in Alaska at 1:16 p.m. ET. The rocket continued smoothly into space and after nine minutes entered orbit at an altitude of 310 miles (500 km).
The Astra has just reached orbit! 7.61 km / sec at our target slope of 86.0 degrees at an altitude of 500 km. The team is working hard for this. We’re just getting started, people. #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/NiMhCEsuCI
– Chris Kemp (@Kemp) November 20, 2021
Astra is using economies of scale to reduce launch costs, and has already signed contracts to launch 50 payloads so far. With his recent success, he has joined the ranks of a handful of private space companies that offer launch contracts.
In addition to going public in July, the company also acquired Apollo Fusion, a company with a focus on use electric drive in space. As Kemp said, the company is just beginning.