The company this weekend sent its Launch Vehicle 0007 into orbit, reaching that region of space for the first time. The flight took off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak Island, Alaska, at 1:16 AM ET (or 08:16 AM on 21 November, SAST). The 13-metre rocket entered orbit around the planet a few minutes later.
Infernus Ad Astra
Astro CEO Chris Kemp, speaking in a live stream after the event, said, “The team’s worked so hard on this for so many years. We have rocket serial number eight, nine, 10 in production, so we’re just getting started.”
This is the first time, following several failed attempts, that the company has launched one of its rockets into orbit. Its first attempt, in March last year, saw its rocket unable to leave the launchpad. A September 2020 attempt was canned by an issue with the rocket’s guidance system. The company ran low on fuel during a December 2020 attempt that saw its rocket reach space but not orbit.
Then, in August this year, another attempt was aborted at a height of 50km after the LV0006, the direct predecessor to this weekend’s successful launch vehicle, had an engine shut down on takeoff.
Astra now stands alongside SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and Rocket Lab as one of the few private western companies to have launched a rocket into orbit. Even Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has yet to pass that particular milestone.